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Like so many other events over the course of the past year, the Derby Community Foundation’s Uncorked fundraiser scheduled for Feb. 27 is having to change due to the coronavirus pandemic – but the show must go on, no matter the challenges.

“It’s going to be completely different in that it’s not a physical event. There’s no decorating and there’s no caterers. What we’ve had to do because of COVID is come up with a virtual event,” said DCF Executive Director Theresa Hearn.“We’re calling it an ‘unevent’ because it looks nothing like Uncorked of the past in terms of the physical event.”

Taking away the costumes, food, drink and silent auction elements, Uncorked 2021 will be a stripped down affair. However, Hearn noted the foundation will try to recapture some of that in the virtual event – namely with a raffle being planned.

Four prize packages (valued at $500 each) will be put together with various gift certificates and more from Derby businesses for the raffle. Tickets will be available for $30 each and event sponsorships will help to purchase the raffle prizes – another way for the foundation to give back.

“As the year progressed and we saw what was happening to our local businesses, that’s where the raffle idea came from,” Hearn said. “There are businesses in the community that have supported us for years by donating items for silent auctions, live auctions, things like that, and they’re hurting for business. We’re going to take some of that sponsorship money and go out and purchase gift certificates, gift cards and merchandise from those businesses that have supported us year after year after year with donations as our way of thanking them for always being there for us in the good times. Hopefully they’ll feel that appreciation from us.”

On the day of the event, DCF will hold the raffle drawing, acknowledge its sponsors and have a year-in-review presentation as it normally does at its annual gala. Whether that will be livestreamed or prerecorded is yet to be determined, Hearn said.

Uncorked’s move to an ‘unevent’ continues the fundraiser’s evolution from its barn party origins in 2005 to the more upscale gala of the past decade.

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Costumes, catering and more will be pushed aside in 2021, as the Derby Community Foundation is adapting and hosting its annual Uncorked event in a new format.

Throughout the event’s history, though, Hearn noted attendance has typically hovered around 300 for each fundraiser – which is how the foundation decided on how many raffle tickets would be sold this year. A number of those have already been sold, too, as the proceeds of the fundraiser remain crucial to the Derby Community Foundation’s mission.

Without the proceeds of Uncorked, we don’t have grant money for the community enrichment grant program, so it was very important that we come up with something in order to raise those funds,” Hearn said. “It wasn’t a matter of if we have an event, it was a matter of how and what it would look like.”

Hearn admitted the foundation was fortunate to have the 2020 fundraiser before the restrictions tied to the pandemic were put in place. The time since has been used to figure out how to adapt.

Normally, Hearn said new sponsors are sought out each year to help put on the Uncorked fundraiser. This year, she returned to the well of tried and true sponsors. Within the first week, two of the regulars (Wesley and Rock Regional Hospital) committed right away, which is a trend she hopes is reflected in the overall public support of the event.

“If the demonstration of sponsorship is any indication of how the public will respond then it should go over well,” Hearn said. “I hope that the community feels the same and that they purchase raffle tickets as they purchased Uncorked tickets despite the fact that they won’t have a fun evening to come enjoy. I hope they know doing this, supporting us, they’re helping extend the good works that are done in the community through the grant dollars that we give.”

Community being at the crux of the foundation, Hearn said a $30 raffle ticket is a buy-in to all the good the DCF does for local nonprofits. Tickets are currently available to purchase from DCF board members or online at www.derbycf.org.

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