Stuffing stockings for a good cause
Guests dressed predominantly in black tuxedos and Nancy Reagan-red gowns got to step on the red carpet and through faux security guards to the “state dinner at the White House” at the Grand Ballroom, while outside the window, the capital was brushed with its first snow of the year.
Beyond the gate hung portraits of America’s founding fathers, Christmas wreaths made of green ferns, pine cones and white and red candles and 30 tables each named after a U.S. President. The presence of 13 child volunteers from Seoul Foreign School and the singing of the two national anthems, the American and Korean, by children from both countries, which was perhaps the only Korean part of the event.
The evening was planned under the theme of “Christmas in Washington: A Capital Affair” and was an occasion for the hosts ― Kathy Scalabre, the president of AWC, Betsy Zink, the “Ball Chair,” and her husband Michael ― to officially introduce the American corporate community to the new U. S. Ambassador to South Korea, Alexander Vershbow, and his wife, Lisa; the ambassador presented his credentials to President Roh Moo-hyun on Oct. 17.
Detailing AWC’s charity and volunteer works, such as “Friends Without Borders” and “House of John,” Mr. Vershbow praised and encouraged the Club’s “active role in promoting stronger U.S.-Korea relations.”
Mr. Vershbow and his wife were among the guests seated at the head table, suitably named “George Washington.” Also at the center of attention was the out-going Commander of the United Nations Command and the Republic of Korea and U.S. Combined Forces Command, the Commander of the United States Forces Korea, General Leon Laporte, dressed up in his full attire, as well as his wife, Judy, in a patriotic red ensemble for their farewell party.
The evening was kept alive by a live auction led by the volunteer “auctioneer” of the night, John Papazian, the president of DaimlerChrysler Korea.
The most coveted auction items of the night were two business-class Northwest Airlines tickets to any U.S. city, which went to Eileen Wacker, the wife of Richard F. Wacker, the CEO of Korea Exchange Bank, for 6.2 million won ($6,000).
The six-course dinner featured smoked Hudson Valley duck breast, cranberry and Oregon Pinot Noir granite and slow-roasted California Tom turkey breast, and after dancing “YMCA” to a live American band into the morning, the spirit of giving to the needy did quite well at picking the pockets of the 300 attendees.
By the end of the ball, AWC raised 21 million won from the sales of the raffle, tickets and from the live auction, as well as 58 million won from corporate donations. Most of the money raised at the ball will go to local charities as well as to the Katrina Relief fund and the Red Cross next year.
“We raised 60 million last year. [This year’s] figure is phenomenally high. We’ve gone beyond triple the amount we had normally raised in previous years,” said Ms. Scalabre, adding that the Club has been raising additional cash through its AWC Thrift Shop, a secondhand store located on the US Army base.
“At the store, we raise $20,000 on average monthly, and half of the money goes to military welfare and the rest to local charities,” Ms. Scalabre said.
by Ines Cho