Party with a purpose

Karlee Johnson, left, and Mellisa Mapes trade ornaments at Monday night’s “Party with a Purpose” at a home in the 500 block of Chanticlear Place in Clovis. (CNJ staff photo: Mike Linn)

By Tova Fruchtman: CNJ staff writer

At first glance it looked like a normal Christmas party.
At the base of the tree were carefully wrapped packages for an ornament exchange.

Faint music played in the background. The women chatted
and laughed in scattered groups: Some in the living room, others in the kitchen; some with glasses of wine, others with soda; some with plates full of food, others with smaller portions of crackers and spinach dip.

But there was something different about this party.

The women walked in bearing gifts, some for each other and others for needy families they would likely never meet.

In all, partygoers brought more than 100 pounds of beef, hundreds of disposable cups and money.

This was a “party with a purpose.”

Since Rene Sartin moved to Clovis from Beaumont, Texas, eight years ago she has been throwing a party each Christmas that solicits the help of her friends to meet the needs of the Lighthouse Mission.

Though the turn out was less than in years past — usually about 30 women attend and this year about 20 came — the party still raised roughly 102 pounds of meat, $175 and cups for the mission’s kitchen.

“I thought it was really a neat thing to do,” said Diana Neff, who has been attending the parties for three years. “I’d never been to a party like this before, and it makes you feel good. Rene has a heart of gold to do this.”

If Sartin and her friends have a party, they have a purpose. In the past they have brought food for an animal shelter, toiletries for a women’s shelter, school supplies for needy children and money to help a couple pay medical bills they couldn’t afford. They used to have the parties throughout the year.

“We’ve all gotten so busy, we only do it at Christmas,” said Sartin, who lugged bags of beef to her back porch as women carried them in.

When Miranda Chavez bought a large batch of meat before the party her daughter questioned her about it.

“I think it teaches my daughter a lot,” Chavez said.

Chavez said she also comes to the party to have a good time participating in the ornament exchange and meeting new people each year.

The women joked, shared stories, opened their ornament gifts and caught up with old friends.

At the end of the party Sartin said they get out the scale to see how much meat they end up with. Sometimes the group donates more than 200 pounds of meat — a gift greatly appreciated at the Lighthouse Mission.

“It was a tremendous help,” said Geri Gomez of the

Lighthouse Mission. “That will go far in feeding people that are in our community. People in our community do not have to go hungry because (other) people care.”

Throw your own

Rene Sartin’s tips for throwing a party with a purpose:

• Draw a crowd — “Invite everyone you know so you have a good turnout. Don’t just invite your good friends.”
• Pick a charity — “Pick your favorite charity and find out what is most needed.”
• Send invitations — “(It’s good to send) something they can put on the refrigerator.” Her invitations told what the party was for and what type of donation to bring ( i.e. meat and cups).
• Have a good time — “Try to make it a fun social thing.”
• Don’t wait for Christmas. — “You can do it any time of year.”

Source: Rene Sartin