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Fashion show raises funds for Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation

By Nathan Mayberg - Editor | Feb 18, 2021

Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation past-president Barbara Mezeske was one of 10 foundaton members who enthusiastically modeled on clothes from local shops as part of the group's 10th annual fundraiser Saturday on Fort Myers Beach outside The Islander at Santini Plaza. / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

The Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation was supposed to be holding its 10th annual fashion show fundraiser last year but then COVID-19 struck.

While the pandemic delayed last year’s fashion show, the organization found another calling this past year – helping local workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As of December, more than 600 Publix gift cards were distributed by the foundation to those workers.

This past weekend’s Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation “Flower Power” fashion show raised more than $8,000 for their charity efforts, communications lead Jessica Hernstadt said.

With 10 of the foundation’s members modeling shoes from Comfort by Design and clothes from Island Girl, Leani’s and The Islander at Santini Plaza, the shops were able to generate interest for their fashions while the foundation raised money from attendees and those watching the stream online.

Gift bags and swag bags were the fundraising draws through raffle tickets as well as a 50-50 draw. Door prizes were also given out. The swag bags provided discounts to the local clothing stores and other businesses in town.

Connie Stillwagon was one of 10 Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation members who enthusiastically modeled on clothes from local shops as part of the group's 10th annual fundraiser Saturday on Fort Myers Beach outside The Islander at Santini Plaza. / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Susan Krajewski organized this year’s event, reaching out to the stores and to the models. “I thoroughly enjoyed working on it.” she said.

She credited the local clothing stores with providing their services. “They were just gracious enough to show their fashions,” she said.

Krajewski said this year’s event was more difficult to plan due to the pandemic. Normally, the fashion show is held at the South Beach Grille where 120 to 140 people will congregate.

Not wanting to get that many people together indoors, Krajewski said the organization considered a tent outdoors but that would have still been considered an indoors event. Instead, they chose Santini Plaza outside The Islander. A crowd of more than two dozen watched the models parade a wide array of outfits with more watching the stream on Facebook Live.

The Fort Myers Beach Public Library hosted the fashion show’s fancy gift bags on its third floor for two weeks, selling raffle tickets to benefit the fundraiser.

Deb Nelson was one of 10 Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation members who enthusiastically modeled on clothes from local shops as part of the group's 10th annual fundraiser Saturday on Fort Myers Beach outside The Islander at Santini Plaza. / Photo by Nathan Mayberg

Krajewski said more money was raised this year than the last fashion show as a result. She said the online sales gave the fashion show a boost. “That opened up a whole mew avenue for us,” she said. The 50-50 tickets were almost double the normal prize.

Krajewski said the foundation continues to sell #WeAreFMB merchandise through its website at www.fmbcommunityfoundation.com and at local stores including Krajewski’s hair salon One Flight Up.

“It was tremendous, the need to help people this year with things being closed and business being down” Krajewski said. In August and September, when the season typically slows again, Krajewski said the foundation hopes to have funds in reserve to help local workers again.

“The foundation’s whole purpose is to raise money to give it away,” she said. “We try to keep it on the island.”

The foundation’s philanthropy extends to more than 30 organizations including the Fort Myers Beach Library, the Mound House, Friends of Matanzas Preserve, Fort Myers Beach Fire Department, St. Vincent DePaul and Choice Market.

Bonnie Blake was one of 10 Fort Myers Beach Community Foundation members who enthusiastically modeled on clothes from local shops as part of the group's 10th annual fundraiser Saturday on Fort Myers Beach outside The Islander at Santini Plaza. / Photo by Nathan Mayberg