Tropical Tastes of Fall Planned for October

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By Terry Rogers

On Saturday, October 14 from 12 to 7, Poncho and Lisa Johnson plan to transform their home in Sunset Cove into a tropical paradise in order to raise money for Take My Hand Ministries, an organization that supports the Milford Police Department Community Assistance Programs. In addition, the event will benefit the VFW Ways and Means Committee in Milford.

“God has blessed us with a beautiful home and land,” Ms. Johnson said. “He owns this and we feel as if we need to share it with others. For the past few years, we had an event for the Community Assistance Program as part of their Toy Drive. We started doing this when our son, Colby, was four, in order to teach him about giving to others. The event was a lot of fun, we had a hayride and lots of kids around. Now, he is 14 and last year we realized it was time to do something different. We prayed on it and came up with the Tropical Tastes of Fall.”

The event will include music by The Fabulous Hubcaps and The Funsters. Tickets, which are $50 per person, includes at least two free tastings from Dogfish Head Brewery and Sposato Wines. Guests also receive two free tastings from several food trucks that will be at the event, including Petite Sweets, Fat Daddy’s BBQ, Williams-Sonoma, Avenue Methodist Boy Scout Troop 186 and more. Anyone who brings a gift card of $20 or more to Walmart or Toys-R-Us will be entered into a drawing for a collection of gift cards valued up to $1,000. Gift cards already collected include Bethany Blues, Jake’s Seafood, Touch of Italy and Vernon Powell. More are being added each day.

The Milford Police Department Community Assistance Program collects and distributes toys to needy children every year. The gift cards are used after the toys have been distributed for sudden needs in the community, such as a family whose home burns before Christmas. In addition, because toy drives often collect toys for young children, the cards can be used to purchase items for children in needy families who are 11 and older.

“We hope to have at least 400 people at this event,” Ms. Johnson said. “We hope to place the bands in the side yard with vendors around the drive. We will have food and drink tastings up around the pool. This is a rain or shine event, so we have developed contingency plans should the weather not cooperate. We have a large home and a large covered patio so we will simply adjust for the weather. It won’t be the first time we have shifted for rain. The last time I don’t think our guests even knew it was raining we managed it so well.”

Take My Hand Ministries was created in 1999 by Reverend Doctor Michaele Russell in order to help women and children who were victims of abuse. At the time, there were very few organizations dedicated to helping women and children in such circumstances. Mr. and Mrs. Johnson have served on the board of the organization since it began.

Dr. Russell became very active with the VFW at the national level and Take My Hand Ministries became less active. By that time, there were many organizations helping women and children, so Dr. Russell let it sit, praying on the best way to move the organization forward.

“When we started talking about this, we wanted to do it June 3,” Ms. Johnson said. “Then we learned that the rules had changed and that we could not donate directly to the police department. We needed to create our own charitable organization in order to fund the Community Assistance Program. We firmly believe that God directs us, so we prayed on it. One day, we remembered Take My Hand and we spoke to Michaele about using that organization for the fund. One day, Michaele was here as we were talking about having a statewide VFW event downstate. We decided to do it here and were working on the plans. Michaele looked at me and said that she had prayed on what to do with Take My Hand Ministries and that she wanted us to just take it to use for our program. We decided then to make this event a joint venture between the VFW and the Community Fund.” Ms. Johnson said that a check for half the proceeds will be given directly to the VFW and the other half placed in an account for use by the Community Fund.

Margo Ellers of the VFW said that it was a natural partnership to join with the Milford Police Department for this unique fundraiser.

“Our Ways and Means Committee helps veterans and families with a wide variety of needs,” Ms. Ellers said. “We wanted to do an event that was open to the public and when we learned that this could be a way to benefit not only our veterans, but the police as well, we were excited to participate. We are hoping to put a positive light on police and to let people know our police force goes above and beyond every day.”

Sponsorships and vendor opportunities are still available. For ticket information or to learn more about volunteering or becoming a vendor, individuals should contact the Johnson’s at 302-422-1086, Margo Ellers at 302-883-4922 or Petite Sweets at 302-725-0725.