PLAINS TWP. — Nearly 200 guests rummaged through Diagon Alley, searching near broomsticks, robes and even chocolate frogs in search of items that would be sure to delight — if you were the highest bidder.
The Wyoming Valley Children’s Association held a Harry Potter-themed “Gala at Hogwarts” at The Woodlands Inn on Friday. The dinner and silent auction aimed to raise money as well as honor Bruce and Nancy Weinstock for over 30 years of service to the organization.
Executive director Nina Zanon and fundraising coordinator Christine Nackin said the association is in its 94th year of service to the community and focuses on helping disabled and low-income children under 5.
“We provide them with education and therapy services so they can get ready for kindergarten and life,” Zanon said. She added the Forty Fort organization cares for roughly 120 students each year while also providing homebound and contracted services to area schools.
As guests were seated for dinner, Zanon and emcee, WBRE anchor Nick Toma, presented the Weinstocks with the Making A Difference Award. Each year, the award is presented to those who go above and beyond in their service to the children’s group.
The Kingston couple has supported the association for over 30 years, with Bruce serving on its board for 18 years. Their daughter, Janelle, presented the award to her parents while a congratulatory video from her sister, Laura, aired from her residence in Santa Monica, California.
Carrying in his speech a statement from Laura about the importance of teaching children to have full hearts and give back to their communities, Bruce spoke about why the WVCA is so dear to him.
“Nancy and I have always impressed with our daughters that giving back to the community is not a choice — it’s a privilege,” he said. “It’s truly been our privilege to contribute to the Wyoming Valley Children’s Association, a community of doing good.”
While many guests came in formal attire, others chose to let their love for Harry Potter shine through. Donning black pants and a shirt with a red vest and silicone elf ears, Mountain Top resident Kal Lannon attended in-costume with wife Remona Mansilla-Perry. Identifying as a “Gryffindor” from the movie, Lannon explained her need to come and support the organization.
“Three of our kids actually went to Wyoming Valley Children’s Association, and they really helped,” said Lannon. “I think the event is really amazing. All the house decor, they did a really good job. If you are a fan (of Harry Potter), it’s perfect.”
A few tables down, Shavertown resident Chris Sanders said the association has not only aided his two children, but allows him to feel confident about the level of care they receive.
“When you have a child with special needs, one of the things that you always worry about as a parent is what’s happening to that child when they’re not with you,” he said. “(WVCA) is not only the child’s advocate, but it’s also our advocate when we’re not able to be there.”