A couple of weeks ago Makaboo participated in an annual event that St. Louis Children's Hospital supporters throw to raise funds for the organization. It's called the "Spring Tabletop Event." Confused? I was too.
Here's how it was explained to me: 70 designers, retailers and other individuals/organizations sponsor tables, and they decorate their tables in whatever way they choose, and then 700 women come and look at the tables. And then everyone has lunch. In a huge banquet room at the Ritz Carleton.
I said yes months ago and then promptly forgot about it. A week before the big day I got an email reminder and immediately felt stress and anxiety for having said yes to something I didn't understand and now felt I didn't have the time or money to do.
On Monday we came up with a picnic theme - cheap, cute and easy to execute. The coup was a 1-2 punch between our packager Nina and my hubby Bill. Nina said that height was critical (the ceilings are like 80 feet tall!) and came up with the idea of putting a tree in the middle of the table and hanging some of our Lovies and Rattles in it. Then Bill riffed on the idea and said "you should hang coupons in the tree!" which sounded like a terrible idea at the time (and I said so), but ingenious by the next morning.
Tuesday we looked around for cute baskets and a big tree. Wednesday we ran around buying groceries, renting linens and picking up said tree! Bill found us an apple picker (a long stick with a grabber thingie on it) to pick coupons off of our tree. Nina and I did a dry run-through of the table and tree in our storage room, and I complained some more.
Thursday morning we scrambled to the event and finished setting up. At 10am the floodgates opened.
First of all, I was *blown away* by how cool the tables were around us. There were gorgeous tables and hilarious ideas and so many creative touches. It was sort of like Willy Wonka meets ladies-who-lunch. It was so much neater and more fun than what I had envisioned. Second, I was really happy with our table. We've done events before and this is the first one where I was completely proud of both the vision and the execution. A busboy walked by and said "awesome". 'Nuff said!
Third of all, I loved picking coupons off of the coupon tree! Most of the tables weren't really manned, and I don't think any beside ours had stuff to do. Given, a lot of people looked at me like I was nuts with my apple picker, but others got in line for their coupon! We had about 70 coupons in all; most were $5 and $10 dollars off, but a few were $20 and $50, and there was one $100 gift card we called "the golden coupon". All were typed on the back of our gift tags so you couldn't see which was which from the ground.
In the midst of the chaos, a young girl and her mom approached the table and asked to pick a coupon. I hadn't seen many kids at the event, but it didn't strike me as odd that this little one was here. She was very shy, and when I asked her to pick out a coupon, she had trouble deciding. We finally settled on one and I tried picking it off - to no avail! It was stuck! I actually had to stand on a chair and yank it down with my hand. As I handed it to her I turned it over, and it was the golden coupon!
"You won the grand prize!" I exclaimed, genuinely surprised (though it explained why it was on so tight - I didn't want that sucker to fall off!). The little girl's eyes went wide and her face turned a bright pink as her mother and grandmother congratulated her. Then they were off, back into the din.
We sat down to lunch a few minutes later, and the emcee made some remarks and then welcomed the guest of honor. It was the girl's mom, who told the story of how Children's Hospital tried so hard to save the life of her older daughter, who did not survive her incredibly rare heart disease, and how Children's was able to save her younger daughter's life, by getting her a heart transplant before her own little heart gave out.
In an instant, the world stopped and the entire room - 700 women - paused to contemplate this family's reality, and our own, and how lucky we all are to be alive.
It was pretty amazing.
I was so grateful to be a part of it, and so happy that our golden ticket ended up in the hands of someone with a heck of a lot of heart.