“You can spend $50 at any gay bar and have a forgettable night or you can spend $50-$75 on TOY and have an unforgettable night,” Chris Balbi said about DVLF’s annual fundraising gala, which he is chairing. “You get to feel amazing about contributing to society, you get an open bar, you get hors d’oeuvres and you get great views of the city.”
The Dec. 9 event will raise funds for DVLF, an LGBT grantmaking organization. Additionally, event attendees are encouraged to bring an unwrapped toy, which will be given to patients at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and children of clients at Action Wellness.
TOY will return to Sky Philadelphia, previously known as Top of the Tower, for the second year in a row. However, the event’s layout will differ slightly. Balbi said that TOY typically draws 300-400 attendees but Sky Philadelphia can hold up to 1,000 people with two rooms separated by a hallway. Last year, DVLF took advantage of both rooms but the organization will only use one this year.
“This year, we asked [Sky Philadelphia] to give us one side [of the venue],” Balbi said. “We want it to feel more like a party. We want it to be more of a celebration and when you put a lot more people in a smaller area, you’re forced to mingle.”
DJ Carl Michaels will provide music for the evening, which will also include the presentation of DVLF grants to five organizations. The grantees were not announced by presstime.
Additionally, attendees can participate in a silent auction with an assortment of prizes.
While TOY will stay true to some traditions, there will also be some “sexy” changes.
“I don’t think that donor parties need to be hoity-toity,” Balbi said. “I think they can be fun.”
“I wanted to bring a little sex into it,” he added.
The chairman noted that three “sexy elves,” two men and one woman, will don red boxers and Santa Claus hats to make sure everyone is having a “good ol’ sexy time.”
Balbi said there will also be efforts to bring more attention to DVLF in the form of a “selfie contest.” The contest will encourage attendees to take a selfie and tag DVLF on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. The contest winner will receive a $25 Saxby’s Gift Card.
“The whole point of the selfie contest is that people will be posting about the event and bring more eyes to DVLF’s Facebook page and, hopefully, website.”
Balbi said events like TOY encourage community investment, which can help younger people better overcome the same struggles that he and other members of the LGBT community went through.
“My generation and generations that are older than me go to events like TOY to help pursue, push and make being an LGBT community member easier for a younger generation.”
He also said the toy-drive portion of the event brings comfort to young people in this political climate.
“The youth, [and] not just in the LGBT community, are growing up in a really weird world, and if we can provide any sort of security or stability through these fundraising events, let’s do it.”
TOY 2017 will be held 7-10 p.m. Dec. 9 at Sky Philadelphia, 1717 Arch St. Visit www.dvlf.org/toy to purchase tickets.
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