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Chocolate Ball goes Hollywood

Shorewood HUGS to hold event on Feb. 2

Each wish recipient, granted through the Shorewood HUGS and Wishes program, is given a HUGS bear.
Each wish recipient, granted through the Shorewood HUGS and Wishes program, is given a HUGS bear.

SHOREWOOD, Ill. — If you’ve ever aspired to walk the Red Carpet in Hollywood, next weekend could be your golden opportunity.

The chance to literally stroll the carpet and hob knob with celebrities, albeit local ones, is yours for the cost of a ticket to the Shorewood HUGS annual Chocolate Ball on Saturday, Feb. 2, at the Shorewood Village Hall.

The Chocolate Ball promises to be the event of the season and members are preparing for the theme of “HUGS Goes Hollywood” with entertainment and activities that will fit right in whether you prefer Marilyn Monroe or Brad and Angelina.

Seven local vendors — Bella Cucina Catering, The Department, Barolo, Cutting Edge Catering, Aunt Nina’s Sweets and Treats, Hollingworth Candies, and H.Kakesare — are whipping up special chocolate treats to fit in with this year’s theme as well. Exactly what they will be is a surprise, said HUGS Executive Board Vice President Molly Babyak.

Entertainment for the evening will be singer Michael J. Perkins.

“He’s a real crooner,” Babyak said. “He will be serenading us as we enjoy our chocolates and martinis.”

Each guest is invited to purchase a star, which will provide a chance to win an Oscar Experience. Pick a movie star or celebrity of your choice for $30, $50 for a couple, and be that person for the evening.

Your name will be entered into the drawing to win a trip to the Gene Siskel Film Center in Chicago to attend the only official Academy-sanctioned Oscar party in Chicago on Feb. 24. Only 60 star tickets will be sold.

The package includes tickets to the event, a $100 certificate toward a dress at White Carriage, $50 toward tuxedo rental at Kosack’s, a bracelet and earring package from David Nelson’s Jewelry, a pre-party facial at Bliss Hair Studio, a mani/pedi at Divas Salon and Spa, limo service to and from Chicago and a night’s stay in a Chicago hotel overlooking the Chicago River with a view of Lake Michigan.

“It’s really a nice package,” Babyak said. “It’s worth $1,300.”

The rest of evening will be filled with socializing, music, raffles and silent auctions, all to benefit the Hugs and Wishes program of Shorewood HUGS.

The Hugs and Wishes program is in its fourth year, Babyak said. To date they have filled nearly 90 wishes of area people who have struggled with economic problems, cancer and other health care needs, educational needs and abusive relationships, to name a few.

HUGS recipients are men, women, children and infants who would otherwise fall through the cracks of most programs that help with much larger needs. HUGS members truly believe by granting these wishes they touch the hearts of people and give them hope of a brighter tomorrow.

Special guests for the evening will be Minooka High School science teacher Sam Pavelka, who is battling Ewing’s Sarcoma, and his wife Cheryl, for a much needed night out. HUGS members choose one wish recipient each year and sponsor that person to attend the Chocolate Ball in their honor.

As a wish recipient, Pavelka asked to have a swing set/jungle gym built for his young daughter who was having a hard time dealing with her father’s illness and welcoming a new baby to the family all at once.

There are many, many more heartwarming stories about recipients that can be viewed on the organization’s website,

Emcees for the evening will be Lynn, Mary and Natalie, from the WJOL show of the same name. Other local celebrities, business owners, wish recipients and your own neighbors will also step out Hollywood style on Feb. 24.

Tickets can be purchased from any Shorewood HUGS member for $45 in advance, or $55 at the door.

Attire for the evening is dressy casual, and like in Hollywood, just about anything goes.

The event is sponsored by the vendors and Heartland Bank and Trust Company.

Thanks to the outpouring of support from the people of Shorewood and surrounding communities, the Chocolate Ball fundraiser has been a great success for HUGS, Babyak said.

“We love and appreciate the support our community gives us,” said Babyak, “and our Hugs and Wishes program wouldn’t be possible without it.”

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