Merlene Davis: Faith Lutheran committee reaches out to help Moveable Feast, other nonprofits

Bottles of wine will be disguised on the "Wall of Wine" at the Taste of Grace event to benefit Moveable Feast.
Bottles of wine will be disguised on the "Wall of Wine" at the Taste of Grace event to benefit Moveable Feast.

About eight years ago, Don DeLuca and Scott Gralheer came up with the idea for a winter holiday auction that would not only benefit their church, but bless an organization in need.

Members of the parish life committee of Faith Lutheran Church in Lexington provided the food and other church members brought craft items, baked goods and even services they could provide, such as housecleaning, all of which was auctioned, DeLuca said.

The church raised a few thousand dollars, and the event continued to grow.

About four years ago, the church decided to throw a Christmas in July party in its backyard, complete with food and a shuttle service from a nearby parking lot.

"But the story kind of changed when the earthquake in Haiti happened," he explained, saying Faith Lutheran had been supporting Grace Orphanage in Haiti and learned it was a total loss.

Instead of Christmas in July, DeLuca and Gralheer decided to call the party Taste for Grace, with proceeds going to help rebuild the orphanage. The event raised $10,000 and the orphanage was rebuilt.

DeLuca and Gralheer were pleased and decided to continue their efforts with a different twist.

"We decided to change the name to Taste of Grace and make it a movement about spreading grace in Lexington," DeLuca said.

So every fall the two meet with the event's committee and decide which charity to bless. They look for groups for which "$10,000- $15,000 will make their year. We look for organizations that don't have a big bank roll," he said.

In 2011, Mission Lexington Free Dental Clinic was given $15,000. In 2012, Faith Pharmacy was given $10,000.

This year, Moveable Feast Lexington was selected. Moveable Feast delivers hot, nutritious dinners to people with HIV/AIDS-related illnesses, their caretakers and their dependents in Fayette County, Monday through Friday, free of charge. About 20 people also qualify for lunch.

On Friday, recipients get a bag of dry goods that helps carry them through the weekend.

The idea for Moveable Feast started in 1998, shortly after an HIV patient in need starved to death in downtown Lexington.

"We average about 110 meals a night," said Tony Burgett, the organization's president. "The meals include an entrée, side, starch, salad and dessert."

Along with the size of the event, the mission has grown as well, DeLuca said, adding that he wants to get the community more involved with the organizations, most of which need more volunteers and financial backing.

A member of the organization that's benefitting is given a few minutes at the event to talk about what it does in the community.

"If we can reach five or 10 people who are lifelong givers, then next year the organization will have a bigger base for its funding," he said.

None of that would work however, if there weren't some fun attached.

This year, Taste of Grace will be held Saturday in Brannon Crossing at The Ballroom House, 241 East Brannon Road, Nicholasville. One of the fun aspects of the evening will be a "Wall of Wine," in which about 100 bottles of wine, valued from $25 to $150, will be disguised in a fabric bag with a number on it. For $20, anyone can take a chance at getting a great value, DeLuca.

"A couple of bottles are worth $150 and some have Swarovski crystals on the bottle," he said.

Appetizers will be provided by Nancy George and auction items will include oil paintings, prints, jewelry, leather works and wood art pieces. There are also tickets to a play.

Music will be provided by Tall, Dark and Handsome 4 (TDH4), a quartet that mixes the folk, jazz and blues genres.

In addition to Taste of Grace, DeLuca said the committee may venture into smaller fundraisers for groups that need only a few hundred dollars to make ends meet.

"We have been provided so much that we have so not deserved and we want to help others," he explained. "It is a lot of work, but it brings so many people together who probably would never be in the same room together."

That's fine, but that's not how Burgett sees Taste of Grace.

"This is one of the little angels who come to us," he said.


Taste of Grace benefit for Moveable Feast

When: 7-10 p.m. Aug. 24.

Where: The Ballroom House, Brannon Crossing, 241 E. Brannon Rd., Nicholasville.

Cost: $40 in advance; $45 at the door.

Information and tickets: Call (859) 273-5077, (859) 619-1008 or (859) 619-7380, or stop by Faith Lutheran Church, 1000 Tates Creek Rd.