Page 12 THE VILLADOM TIMES III • April 1, 2009 Area The American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey is putting a new spin on the traditional gala, its premiere fundraising event, as it announces the Virtual Gala. Rather than hold a formal affair with dinner and dancing, the organization has established a website where donors can participate in this virtual gala, making contributions, bidding on valuable items, signing up for private training and getting tickets to special Red Cross events. The online event runs from April 1 through 30. “As everyone is pressed for time and budgets are tight, we decided to do something very different this year. This is the first time a Red Cross chapter has done this, and we believe it’s one of the first efforts of its kind in the nation,” said Ray Shepherd, chief executive officer of the American Join the American Red Cross for a ‘virtual gala’ Red Cross of Northern New Jersey. Throughout the month of April, attendees of the Virtual Gala will participate in this unique social networking event and experience and share Red Cross lifesaving and volunteering stories. They can also bid on a variety of online auction items that will include vacations, unique experiences, sporting event tickets, restaurant outings and much more, at the touch of a button. The virtual gala also offers participants an opportunity to connect online with the Red Cross by learning how the Northern New Jersey chapter serves the local community with stories from volunteers, clients and everyday people who have experienced Red Cross services. Supporters of the gala will also receive: month-long visibility of their businesses and links to their websites; private Red Cross training in first aid, CPR, and other life-saving courses; tickets to the annual Heroes Event in June; and invitations to an Open House and Thank You Reception at the Fairfield Chapter Headquarters. The 2009 gala honoree is Vincent A. Forlenza, president of Becton Dickinson, a global medical technology company headquartered in Franklin Lakes. The American Red Cross and BD have partnered locally and around the world in many life-changing projects that include the elimination of measles in African and Asian countries and funding support for disaster relief operations after the 9/11 terrorist attack and Hurricane Katrina. “BD has long supported the American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey in its mission to help those in need,” said Forlenza. “We are thrilled to be a part of the gala and support this unique event that will benefit so many people in our communities.” This new and innovative event will offer a greater number of Red Cross supporters the chance to participate in the gala while helping the organization sustain its mission. It will also enable local businesses, corporations and other sponsors to highlight their support for the American Red Cross through various online platforms. “We hope holding a gala online will generate more awareness of the American Red Cross to a greater number of people and supporters in our community while offering an engaging innovative platform for guests and sponsors alike,” said Ray Shepherd, CEO of the American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey. All proceeds from the Virtual Gala will help the American Red Cross of Northern New Jersey serve its 3.5 million neighbors in Bergen, Hudson, Essex, Passaic, Morris and Warren counties with relief after a disaster and help them prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies. For information on packages and sponsorships offered at this year’s TouchofRed. org Virtual Gala or visit www.redcrossnnj. org. 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