• 61°

Saint John’s Drawdown to support local nonprofits

Saint John the Evangelist Catholic Church is gearing up for the 8th annual Drawdown fundraising event Friday, May 4 at 7 p.m. at the Oxford Conference Center.

The Saint John’s Drawdown is a “reverse lottery” of sorts, where potential winners are narrowed down throughout the night. Raffle tickets are placed in a golden basket, and names are drawn periodically until there are five tickets left. Of those five, someone will win $10,000.

Since it began eight years ago, the event has earned around $40,000 annually, which is placed in the Clayton Stevens Trust. The church has managed the trust since 1979, and it provides support to several charities in the LOU community, including Interfaith Compassion Ministries, Love Packs, Doors of Hope and the Oxford Pregnancy Center. This year the trust will also support Christopher Sandroni, son of Glenda Sandroni and the late Stan Sandroni, who is battling a severe form of Tourette’s Disorder. Sandroni’s proceeds will go toward alleviating the strain of traveling back and forth to UAB for his treatment.

According to Suzanne Helveston, co-chair for the event, past proceeds have had a tangible effect on those in need. The fundraiser is a thank-you note to the LOU community, one she said she hopes continues for years to come.

“With the Drawdown, these organizations are able to count on us for financial support each year, and we’re able to help them have a consistent amount of income,” Helveston said. “At the Pregnancy Center, they’ve been able to purchase some ultrasound machines. Cami Bianco goes to our church and is active in Love Packs, so we’re able to hear about that organization on a regular basis as well.”

The event will feature former Ole Miss Dean of Students Sparky Reardon as emcee, as well as catering from GRIT restaurant and an open bar. The band Almost Famous will provide entertainment for guests as well.

This year’s Drawdown will be Star Wars themed, a play on the classic quote “May the Force be with you” and the date, May the fourth. Because Sandroni is a huge Star Wars fan, Helveston said it was only right to embrace the pun.

“This year, if you come, you’ll probably get to have your picture taken with Chewbacca or Darth Vader,” she said. “I’ve heard they’ve bought tickets, so we’re going to cross our fingers that Darth Vader doesn’t win the $10,000, but I heard they will make an appearance.”

While the event, which also includes a silent auction, places a huge emphasis on fun and games, Helveston said the church’s real motivation is simple: love your neighbor.

It’s no secret that the majority of people in the LOU community are generous, and Helveston said the Saint John’s Drawdown is no exception to the rule. The event goes beyond religious affiliation and denomination, reflecting the people it’s helping, and the organizers leave with “full and happy hearts” every year.

“Every year, we are overwhelmed by the support we have from people in our church, people outside of our church, that know this money is going to our city and people who need it,” she said. “I think that’s what every church in Oxford’s goal is, to help their congregation foster that desire to help their neighbor and this is one way we’re able to do that.”

Tickets for the Saint John’s Drawdown are $125, which includes dinner and an open bar for two, as well as one chance to win the $10,000 prize. For an additional $25, attendees can purchase “insurance” for their tickets, which provides the ticket holder with a second chance to win if their name is one of the first 100 drawn. Groups of 10 may purchase reserved seats for $1250, which includes 5 insured tickets.

Tickets can be purchased at the door prior to 7:30. They may also be purchased by visiting the Oxford Conference Center, stopping by the Saint John’s church office or contacting Helveston or co-chair, Kelly Kaigler.