Every fall for more than 20 years, local Realtors and the Sussex County Association of Realtors Community Service Foundation have come together to raise money, shop and wrap holiday gifts for the less fortunate in the area.

On Oct. 20, the foundation hosted its annual Realtor Auction and Gala, and the proceeds of the evening help provide funding for the many programs that the foundation supports throughout the year, including its Needy Family Program. This year's gala netted nearly $41,000, which will directly benefit people in Sussex County.

“The annual gala would not be as successful if we did not receive the support – both through gifts of labor and money – of many local organizations throughout Sussex,” said Foundation President Cyndi Marsh. “We must offer thanks to the following organizations: Sussex County Association of Realtors, Jack Lingo Inc. Realtor, AmeriSpec Home Services & Cheryl Meyers, the Law Offices of Bonnie Benson, Susan Pittard Weidman PA, Billy Scott of Scott & Shuman, Schell Brothers, Brasure's Pest Control, Beach Babies and Coldwell Banker Resort Realty as our sponsors for the 2011 auction.”

One of the elements of the evening is the tasting kiosks provided by local restaurateurs and their businesses. The following local restaurants and businesses offered up food this year: Kickin' Chicken, Nage, Blue Water Grill, Cultured Pearl, Henlopen City Oyster House, The Pig and Fish, DiFebo's and the Bistro at Bear Trap, Sedona and Rehoboth Home Services.

“Rehoboth U-Store and Georgetown Self Storage also do their parts each year and are invaluable to us,” Marsh added.

“The evening would not be complete without Keith Mack offering up acoustic appetizers for the ears, not to mention the generosity and auctioneering genius that comes from Butch Emmert and Richard Bryan,” she noted. “The collaboration of our great local businesses, individuals and local organizations really allows us the opportunity to raise money at a lower cost, extending the value of our dollars.” said Marsh.

The foundation was able to assist 138 local Sussex County families, focusing on the 348 children in them. Local Realtors, their affiliates, family members and friends came out in mass to shop for coats, clothes, shoes and a gift or two at Kmart on Nov. 29.

“Kmart has always been so generous to us, allowing us to overrun their store, offering up several dedicated registers and making sure that we have what we need when we shop – all during their busiest time of year. Kmart's continued generosity year after year has allowed us to help more people each holiday season,” reported Marsh.

Food Lion has additionally helped the foundation by offering food gift cards at affordable prices, facilitating meals for families that might otherwise go without. Once again, Marsh also noted, the Rusty Rudder opened its doors and welcomed the foundation's “elves” inside to wrap all of the gifts on Dec. 8. The gifts and food cards are then delivered to area service centers in the county to distribute directly to the families in need.

“I look forward to next year's Gala and hope that we can assist even more local families. I really wish the need were not as strong here in Sussex County but the numbers grow every year,” said Marsh.

For more information on the SCAOR Community Service Foundation, how to donate and volunteer, contact the Sussex County Association of Realtors office in Georgetown, at (302) 855-2300 or email Cyndi Marsh at Cyndi@debbiereed.com. SCAORCSF is a 501(c)(3) public charity.