Mercy hosts White Christmas Gala despite winter weather

story and photos by Brittany Ransom
bransom@thecitywire.com

Despite having to postpone a day because of wintery weather, the Mercy Fort Smith Foundation hosted its annual White Christmas Gala on Saturday (Dec. 7) night. The event was the first to be held in the MovieLounge's new space, The Studio, located just a few doors down from its main venue.

Nearly 500 tickets were sold for the gala, which serves as the Foundation's premier annual fundraiser. The sold-out event kicked-off with a cocktail hour, followed by dinner. On the menu were lobster bisque, lemon risotto, asparagus, filet mignon topped with crab cake and for dessert, Crème Brule with Crème Fraiche.

The Studio was transformed into a winter wonderland, with beautifully decorated trees scattered throughout the main hall. Tables were topped with festive centerpieces and each room was filled with dazzling holiday decor.

The live auction got underway shortly after dinner. Up for grabs were a $7,500 shopping spree to Newton's Jewelers, a two-day fly fishing expedition, a trip to the International Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and other high-end packages. A silent auction, featuring paintings, jewelry, a Chris Young autographed guitar, and other items, was also held throughout the evening.

In addition to the two auctions, guests could purchase ornaments from one of the many "Treasure Trees," for the chance to win one of several fabulous prizes. Wine lovers also had their choice of games with the Cork Pull and the Wine Toss, which featured bottles of premium wine as prizes.

The "Destinations" area gave guests an opportunity to browse a selection of dream vacations offered at discounted rates. Packages included an "All-Star Disney Vacation," a "Shop 'til You Drop New York Trip," and a resort getaway to Hawaii.

At  9 p.m., guests made their way to the dance floor to enjoy the music of Fayetteville-based group "Got It Covered." Many also took advantage of the "Funky Memories" Photo Booth, which included fun props and accessories to jazz up their pictures.

Tickets for the black-tie optional event were $100. Proceeds from the gala benefit the Mercy Foundation's nursing education initiative, which helps provide education to LPNs seeking their RN certification, and to RNs working towards advanced specialty certifications.

"Over the past decade, hospitals across the country have begun to move towards replacing LPNs with RNs at the bedside," stated Mercy in its program. "At Mercy Fort Smith, we are in the midst of the transition. We value the care our LPNs bring to Mercy and we are seeking to help them progress to RN and beyond levels in their careers at Mercy."

Mercy further explained that studies have demonstrated a "strong correlation between patient outcomes and decrease adverse events, as well as the number of RNs available for patient care." An increase in the presence of RNs has also shown to help reduce the length of patient stay and readmission rates.

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For more information about the Foundation, contact Michelle Hood at 479-314-1133.

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