Tis’ the season for giving, but sometimes the gift you receive is not what you want. Lobbyist and philanthropist Nicole Venable figured out a solution for this ages-old problem.
She threw a White Elephant Gift Exchange party Dec. 15 at the Source restaurant in Northwest Washington where castoff gifts were matched with women who wanted them and money was raised for an HBCU at the same time.
The theme of the event was “Gifts for the Glam Jetsetter.” About 75 women attended the party, including 50 who brought an item to re-gift in a white elephant gift exchange. Items up for exchange included a Black metallic cylindrical makeup bag, a purple silk cover up, a Black quilted leather iPad case and gold-colored link necklace. Each of the castoffs was wrapped. At the conclusion of the party, everyone who had brought a gift was given the opportunity to choose a wrapped gift from the table.
While the gift exchange was a highlight of the party, participants said they came for the opportunity to help raise money for charity. Nicole Venable holds several charitable events each year.
“I loooove these kinds of events—lots of good things and because it’s [held] for such a good cause!” said Dr. Yolanda Holmes, a dermatologist and faithful Nicole Venable event supporter.
In an interview, Nicole Venable said more than $11,000 was raised for the Lady Von Scholarship Fund, which was named after her mother, the late Yvonne Venable, and developed to endow a $50,000 annual scholarship at Spelman College in Atlanta to allow students to study abroad. Yvonne Venable was a supporter of Black colleges and the charity allows her to follow in the footsteps of her socially-engaged mother’s legacy of philanthropic work and fundraising in the Washington metropolitan area, Nicole Venable said.
“My mom loved that I went to Spelman and she loved that I studied abroad when I was at Spelman,” she said. “I really wanted to do this for other young women.”
Over hors d’oeuvres and specialty drinks, the women made purchases from three local pop-up shops and bid in a silent auction on items such as a $200 LaRoche-Posay skin care gift set; a pair of 24-karat gold-filled cubic zirconia and white enamel drop earrings by Christina Sabatini valued at $320; a Jimmy Choo fragrance and lotion set valued at $150; and a pair of lower level seat Wizards tickets with a value of $300. Higher priced auctioned items included two orchestra seat tickets for the BET Honors Awards and two airline tickets.
In the past, the Lady Von Scholarship Fund organization has helped Spelman girls to study in South Africa, China, Senegal and Spain, Nicole Venable said.