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Taste of Oxford set to hit milestone in 13th year

The 13th year is anticipated to be a lucky one for the St. Jude Taste of Oxford fundraising event.

Oxford’s annual food and cocktail party, benefiting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, is expecting to raise $600,000 during Thursday’s event, according to organizers. That amount would push the aggregate amount raised during the event’s existence to over $3 million. Last year’s event raised $525,000 and won a national award from St. Jude.

More than 1,000 people attend the party, which will be held at The Jefferson on Thursday from 7 to 11 p.m., but this year’s number is ballooning past 1,200 attendees. The event is sponsored by Next Gear Solutions.

Along with the culinary focus, expansive silent and live auctions will take place, featuring more than 150 donated items, ranging from trips to Maui, Nashville, New Orleans and Kiawah Islands to dinners and parties with notable local chefs. The auction will be open online ahead of Thursday’s event at stjude.org/auctiontasteofoxford.

“This small town has such incredible generosity,” event chair Elizabeth Randall said. “To come together and raise over a half a million dollars in one night is truly a demonstration of the bright-heartedness of the Oxford community. We are so grateful to Next Gear Solutions, and all of our wonderful sponsors and guests, for their amazing support of this year’s event and St. Jude.”

Randall noted their event has a profit margin of over 90 percent, which she attributes to the “pure generosity” of the Oxford community.

Once again serving as the event’s emcee is Richard Cross, along with Elizabeth Heiskell, who serves as the culinary chair for the event. Heiskell also recruited the food and culinary-related items for the auction.

Every year, the event highlights a local family that has been personally affected by childhood cancer and directly impacted by the work of St. Jude. This year’s honorees and special guests are Lily Baker and her parents, Nichole and Lee. Lily is a six-year-old girl who recently won her three-year cancer battle with the help of St. Jude.

“Lily and her family are the reason we do this,” Randall said. “While the event provides a great social experience for our guests, we feel it is very important to keep the event centered around St. Jude’s vitally important work of curing catastrophic childhood illnesses. St. Jude is currently and actively supporting Oxford families with very sick children, and it is critically important for our Oxford and Ole Miss community to do its part and give back.”

Tickets to attend are $150, with all proceeds going to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit stjude.org/get-involved/find-an-event/dinners-and-galas/taste-of-oxford.html.