Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

March 24, 2013

Hope’s Place holds 15th annual Chocolate Extravaganza

Kenneth Hart
The Independent

ASHLAND —  If you’re allergic to chocolate, Ashland Town Center was not a place where you would have wanted to have been on Saturday.

Merely being in the presence of all the chocolate that was present there probably would’ve been enough to have sent your system into deep shock.

On the other hand, for lovers of all things rich, sweet and made from cocoa beans, Hope’s Place’s 15th Annual Chocolate Extravaganza provided a few hours of bliss — and for a good cause.

The event is one of the major fund-raisers for the regional advocacy center for victims of child sexual abuse. The money it generates enables the center to continue its mission of providing quality services to those victims and their caregivers who have been affected by sexual abuse free of charge, said Brandi Bayes, the center’s executive director.

Bayes said the response to this year’s extravaganza was overwhelming. About 200 Easter baskets were donated for sale — so many that organizers scrapped their usual practice of selling them silent auction-style and went to “cash and grab,” she said.

“We didn’t want people to have to sit around and wait and see if they’d won,” she said.

Basket donations continued to stream in right up until event time, Bayes said.

The event also drew 11 vendors that provides samples of chocolate treats for patrons, who had the option of purchasing individual tickets — each good for one taste — for 50 cents apiece or punch cards good for 10 samples for $5.

The vendors offered a vast array of confections, from the expected, like candy and cookies, to the slightly more unusual, like chocolate-coated popcorn.

Among the more eye-catching treats were the chocolate mouse cookies made by students in the culinary program at Boyd County High School. The mice had chocolate-dipped cherries for bodies — the stems serving as tails — Hershey’s kisses for heads and ears made from almond slivers. Each mouse was delicately perched on a yellow-frosted cookie.

The BCHS culinary class placed third in the vendor competition, which was judged on taste, presentation and other factors, Bayes said. King’s Daughters Medical Center’s Social Work Department was first and the Ramey-Estep Home was second.

Bayes said fund-raisers like the Chocolate Extravaganza are critical to Hope’s Place because they provide it with “unrestricted” funds that can be used for expenses that aren’t covered by grants and other forms of funding it receives. The center’s other major fund-raising events are a golf scramble and a murder mystery dinner theater.

Hope’s Place provides medical exams, forensic interviews, counseling and advocacy services to children who have been sexually abused. Last year, Hope’s Place served 346 alleged child victims of abuse and provided services to more tan 650 non-offending caregivers and family members affected by the abuse. All of those services were offered at no cost to the victim or their family at the Hope’s Place facility on Greenup Avenue.

KENNETH HART can be reached at khart@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2654.