CSI Gives Back ‘Blown Away’ by Community Support at Third Annual Gala

The highly anticipated 2022 CSI Gives Back Gala was held on April 30th at Generations in Aviation Marco Hangar at Craig Field in Jacksonville. The gala is an annual fundraiser to support children and local initiatives across Jacksonville by providing school supplies, clothing, food, educational experiences, and other essentials. This year, the community took a trip back to the fabulous ’50s for an evening full of vintage glamour, jazz music, gleaming aviation vessels, and most importantly, raising money for underserved children in the community.

Guests mingled in their cocktail attire and watched the sun set on a perfectly balmy evening. They browsed auction items as waiters passed trays of hors d-oeuvres, which along with dinner was catered by Biscottis, a local favorite in Jacksonville.

This was CSI Gives Back’s first-ever six-figure event. Funds were raised through partnership donations, a silent auction, blackjack games during the event, and the purchase of flight pins – each colored pin represented a different level of donation support.

The night included hearing from several guest speakers about the impact CSI Gives Back had on their organization throughout 2021. Sherell Shako, a math teacher at Sadie T. Tillis Elementary, talked about her “Green Parties,” a celebration she hosts to encourage students to get good grades. CSI supported the initiative by providing desserts, pizza, and even a video game truck.

John Sanchez, a cybersecurity instructor at Andrew Jackson High School, asked the audience “Who went to prom,” as most of the crowd raised their hands. Sanchez expressed his gratitude for CSI’s support and their gifting of dresses, accessories, décor, and other funds, making it possible for his students to afford to attend prom.

Ending the guest speeches with a bang was Andrea Y. Talley, principal of Charger Academy Middle School. CSI Gives Back has shown its support to Charger Academy through the donation of school supplies, field trips, in-person visits, and more. Talley jumped to her feet motivating the crowd to purchase flight pins and fill the “thermometer,” which indicated the amount of money raised. “Fill that gauge! Fill that gauge,” she chanted over and over.

CSI Gives Back Becky Lowry is humbled by the terrific turnout and eager to get to work using the proceeds to benefit First Coast Children.  

“The change in academic achievement and morale among the children we support proves that we are on the right track and making a difference,” she said.

Board Secretary of CSI Gives Back, Deborah Valentine hopes whether today or in ten years, people can look back and say, “I am where I am today because CSI Gives Back watered the seeds of success in my life”. Stay tuned for CSI Gives Back Gala 2023 and follow us on social media for updates.

Instagram: @csigivesback

Facebook: @CSIGivesBack

LinkedIn: @CSI Gives Back

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