Shattering expectations (in a good way)

From left to right: Mark & Stephanie Schnuck, Majors Patty & Lonneal Richardson, & Marian & John Wuest

From left to right: Mark & Stephanie Schnuck, Majors Patty & Lonneal Richardson, & Marian & John Wuest

The Salvation Army’s inaugural Behind the Red Shield Gala has been hailed a great success by organizers as more than 400 guests gathered May 10 to raise $284,600 for the Army’s year-round programs and services.

“For a first-time effort, I feel that the event was an overwhelming success,” said Marian Wuest, chairperson for the event. “We were very fortunate to have good participation in sponsorships and table sales that will allow The Salvation Army to carry on the numerous services they provide to the community.”

Gala guests were greeted at Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark by veterans who have benefited from the Army’s new Veterans Residence, as well as children who attend the local Temple Worship and Community Center, setting an inviting and personal tone for the evening.

“It created a very welcoming atmosphere that many individuals made sure to comment upon,” Wuest said. “They said they had never felt so welcomed at an event of this type.”

Guests participated in a silent auction prior to the gala’s program, with 30 unique items that raised more than $10,000. A spirited live auction held at the conclusion of the program raised more than $42,000. Items up for bid ranged from a French Laundry Style Dinner for eight that raised $3,500, to an opportunity to travel with the St. Louis Rams to an away game that raised $3,200. When invited to participate in a “Dutch auction” – where guests placed personal bids to benefit The Salvation Army – 40 individuals stepped up to the plate and raised $19,000.

Organizers said the gala was imperative to the Army’s mission, allowing the public to get a closer look at the services the Army provides and meet individuals who are directly affected by its work.

“We felt strongly that there is a significant segment of the St. Louis giving community that is not aware of just how many ways the Army touches the community,” Wuest said. “This event gave valuable exposure and provided an excellent venue to share the Army’s story with the community.”

In addition to highlighting the Army’s significant role in St. Louis, the gala also provided the opportunity to recognize Ameren and Ron and Midge Krueger with “Red Shield Award,” recognizing them for their immeasurable contributions to the Army’s mission.

Mark Schnuck served as Honorary Chair for the event, with Carol Daniels – a St. Louis columnist and motivational speaker – serving as emcee for the evening. Sheila Hoffmeister served as co-chair.

“Several things contributed to the success of the evening, including a strong, well-known honorary chairperson, as well as a very engaged and well-connected committee who gave generously of both their time and their treasure,” Wuest said.

Committee members included Lelia and David Farr; Norma and Carl Fitzwater; Kathy and Bob Fulstone; Carol and Steve Higgins; Janice Rohan and Phil Hulse; Celeste and John Kennedy; Rebecca and Kevin Kerwin; Nancy and Ken Kranzberg; Midge and Ron Krueger; Kathy and Bob O’Loughlin; Joan Quicksilver; Peggy and Jerry Ritter; and Marsha and Bill Rusnack.

Overwhelmingly blessed by the St. Louis community’s generosity and success of the gala, organizers have already begun preparations to make the Behind the Red Shield Gala an annual event.

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