Sixth annual Bag Lady Luncheon raises $18,000 for Cultural Center

Proceeds to benefit arts education, music therapy for students with special needs


The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach hosted its sixth annual Bag Lady Luncheon last Wednesday, Feb. 21, raising $18,000 for the nonprofit’s arts education programs, including a music therapy program for elementary students with special needs.

Held at Sawgrass Country Club in Ponte Vedra Beach, the event invited local ladies to come and bid on a variety of new and used purses that had been donated by members of the community. From vintage styles to designer labels, more than 100 bags were up for grabs, including a brand-new Tory Burch tote that was raffled off to one lucky lady.

“Our mission statement is to bring the arts into the life of the community through arts education, exhibitions and outreach by honoring a donor-driven philosophy,” said Donna Guzzo, executive director of the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach. “I want to thank all the donors that provided those bags that were crying in your closet and needed a new life, and I want to say thank you to all of you for your support to the Center. You are truly friends of the Cultural Center.”

Proceeds of the event will help to fund the Cultural Center’s Sound Connections program, which provides music therapy for children with special needs. The program, which uses music as a therapeutic stimulus to achieve non-musical goals, currently serves students at PVPV-Rawlings Elementary, Ocean Palms Elementary, Valley Ridge Academy and Cunningham Creek Elementary.

“We’ve been a program now for about 11 years,” said Minda Gordon, a board-certified music therapist with the program. “The Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years to support our program. Without the Cultural Center at Ponte Vedra Beach, music therapy in our schools would not be.”

While the purses are a plus, for many of the Bag Lady Luncheon’s annual attendees, it is the Cultural Center’s dedication to providing such programs that keeps them coming back.

“It’s such a novel event,” said Ponte Vedra Beach resident Clare Berry, who attended last year’s luncheon as well. “You come away with something of value for yourself, but you also get to support something that’s of such value to the community, what with the programs the Cultural Center offers for children, so it’s a great event for everyone.”