Story by Lourice Angie
The traditional New Orleans-style “Mardi Gras for a Cause” celebration was first dreamed up by a group of musicians from Warwick who wanted to celebrate their passion for music and their community. Being that Warwick is very supportive of the arts, it did not take long for an entire committee of musicians and community members to come together and turn that dream into a reality.
What is known to some as “Fat Tuesday,” the day before Ash Wednesday is traditionally a time to celebrate and eat well before the season of Lent. “Mardi Gras for a Cause” has become a very popular and well–received annual charity-event in Warwick that helps raise awareness and funds for the Backpack Snack Attack (BSA) program, a non-profit community program that provides food and snacks for hungry school children to eat at home on weekends, when school meals are not available.
Community Helps Raise Funds for Backpack Snack Attack
More than 500 people reveled in the Village of Warwick on Tues,. Mar. 5 for the 7th Annual “Mardi Gras for A Cause” celebration. The event is becoming one of the biggest music events in the Village and included 13 venues, 18 musical acts and 66 musicians this year. Participating businesses offered food and drink specials, and hosted live music and fun entertainment for all ages. Volunteers sold raffle tickets at several locations and people could be seen wearing Mardi Gras-style beads and beautifully decorated masks representing the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green, and gold.
Organizers report that $16,179 was raised for the BSA program this year. That total is $2,492 more than last year, bringing the total amount of funds raised since the inaugural event to $70,257. The event organizers and volunteers said that they are still counting and could possibly hit more than $17,000 for 2019.
Mardi Gras impresario and BSA volunteer, John Desibia commented saying, “It really does take a Village to organize, implement and support an initiative like ‘Mardi Gras for a Cause’ and the Village of Warwick, the Town of Warwick and neighboring communities have been very supportive. I’m so appreciative of all the venues, performers, volunteers, and a very generous Warwick community for coming together and making this evening one of the coolest in Village, where we all have fun and help so many children and families who are served by Backpack Snack Attack.”
Shirley Puett, the Executive Director of the BSA program was extremely grateful for the gracious support of the community.
“We are so blessed, and because of the support of the community we have never had to turn away any family or child needing the support of our program services,” Puett said.
Puett recognized the very generous 2019 sponsors and supporters including: Top Donor – Harry Lierow; Top Golden Ticket raffle sales – Tom Dempsey; Top Supporting Organization – Greenwood Lake School District faculty and staff; Top Supporting Venue(s) – Adam Powers (Baird’s Tavern, Fetch and Village Billiards); and Top Day-of-Event Revenue location, Halligan’s. She also recognized Young Performers Open Mic Sponsors ShopRite and Alto Music; Mardi Gras Friends; Warwick Press; WTBQ; Michael Johndrow and the Warwick Valley Chamber of Commerce; and Village of Warwick Mayor Michael Newhard.
Special thanks are offered to the 18 acts/bands including: open mic hosts Jim Elwell, Gene Focarelli and E’lissa Jones; Mardi Gras Jam and Dance Party host Jeremy Langdale; sound man extraordinaire Will Orosz; and the 13 great local participating restaurants, pubs, Fat Tuesday venues, and their staff. Finally, thanks to the 34 volunteers for all of their time and help.
Event Chairman, Jeff Alario, commended the Mardi Gras planning committee and volunteers for all of their great work, time and contributions.
“John Desibia (Johnny D), Mardi Gras Organizer, Mary Lantiegne Schweitser, event Webmaster and Social Media Guru, and Jennifer Price, volunteer recruiter and Golden Ticket raffle sales coordinator all did an outstanding job ensuring the event’s success” Alario stated.
Congratulations to the Golden Ticket Raffle Winners: first prize to Melissa Hebert, second prize to Mike Vernieri, and third prize to Jean Zimmer. Next year’s “Mardi Gras for a Cause” will be held on Tues., Feb. 25.
The Cause: Backpack Snack Attack
The BSA program is a non-profit organization started in 2009 as an outreach program of the Warwick Reformed Church. The program is run by a group of dedicated volunteers who help provide food on weekends to over 300 needy children within all of the schools in the Town of Warwick. Each school helps to identify families in need and a group of volunteers fills backpacks each week with 13 to 14 food items (per child) and then delivers backpacks to the schools, whereupon the backpacks are discreetly distributed to the children to take home over the weekend. The cost averages between $5 and $6 per child.
All donations are used to purchase food and backpacks to provide needy children with necessary supplies. To volunteer, call the Church at 986-4517, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.backpacksnackattack.com. For more information send an email to email@example.com.
Backpack Snack Attack Now on Amazon Smile
Backpack Snack Attack is now part of the Amazon Smile program. Anyone can choose the Warwick Reformed Church as the nonprofit they would like to support by visiting www.smile.amazon.com, and Amazon will donate five percent of shoppers’ eligible purchases to the Warwick Reformed Church for the BSA program.