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Community Funds’ pajama party at Ritz helps needy children

Several hundred women were guests at a fun pajama party held March 6 at the Ritz-Carlton Sarasota. There were no bunny slippers or late night hijinks, though.

This party was the second annual luncheon for women sponsored by the Manatee Community Foundation, the Lakewood Ranch Community Fund and the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. This year’s guest of honor was Genevieve Piturro who started the Pajama Program to provide new sleepwear and books to children in shelters and foster care.

Through her volunteer work, Genevieve realized that many children have to sleep in their street clothes and wanted to give them the comfort and security of being tucked into bed in snuggly jammies. Now, needy children in this area will also get some warm fuzzies, thanks to a new chapter of the Pajama Program headed up by Valerie Dorr.

A special guest at the luncheon was Tianne Doyle, senior vice-president of Beall’s Outlet Stores. She was understandably proud of her company’s participation working with donors Victoria Leopold, Ruth Rolfe, the Stillinger Charitable Trust and First Book to jump-start the project by donating 1,300 pairs of pajamas and books to local foster children.

Manatee County women filled several tables at the luncheon. Among the crowd and seated front and center were Linda Edwards, Marlene Blalock, Sharon Howze and Mardelle Kennedy. Kathleen Cucci rounded up a bunch of friends for her table, including Diedre Bedford, Patti Tibbetts, Karen Soscia and Liz Bright.

A table from Lakewood Ranch was headed up by Community Fund board chair Cathy Layton and included Barbara Portanova, Sharyl Smith, Marjorie Pflaum and Vicky Pinny.

Susan Wilcox, a Florida native, has lived in Bradenton for more than 20 years.