WRITTEN BY Bek Mitchell-Kidd
PHOTOGRAPHY BY Capehart Photography
“Old bag” is not usually a term one wants to be associated with, but in Palm Beach the Old Bags Luncheon® is one of the hottest tickets of the season.
The event started 23 years ago to benefit the Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County. The Center strives to preserve and strengthen individual and family life through professional, affordable counseling, early childhood education, and vital ancillary services.
From humble beginnings, the Old Bags Luncheon has evolved to become the signature fundraising event for the Center. “Before there were online designer resale outlets, our supporters got together to donate their gently used designer handbags to raise funds for the Center,” says Kristen Bardin, director of special events for the Center.
Pivoting to continue the tradition safely during COVID, the event found a new home and format in 2021. Now based at the iconic The Colony Hotel, guests enjoy a whimsical pop-up garden, a stroll down Worth Avenue which includes exclusive event-only shopping, live music, and of course lunch and cocktails.
The luncheon sells out every year and helps raise more than 50% of the Center’s annual operating budget; the much-needed funds help address the increasing needs of mental health services—the Center served more than 5,000 individuals last year.
The event continues to grow and now has more than 250 designer handbags in the auction annually, including more than half that are new and donated by generous retail supporters. Handbags up for grabs include purses and totes from designers like Gucci, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. Participants can also often snag one-of-a-kind celebrity-signed pieces, and even LPGA-signed golf bags.
Kristen says the event connects with so many people for a variety of reasons. “First, who doesn’t love a good deal on a designer handbag? But what’s better is that the money goes to a good cause. The event is recognized as one of the top five Palm Beach social events of the season! This is the quintessential event for ‘ladies who lunch.’”
Tickets for the event typically go on sale in December of the prior year; 2022’s event has some surprises in store and will again be held at The Colony Hotel and along Worth Avenue on Friday, February 11, 2022.
If you can clear your calendar and travel, this is a must-attend event during a time when some argue Florida’s weather is at its best. If you can’t make it, please consider donating your gently used designer bags.
The Center was established in 1961 to meet the mental health needs of the most vulnerable residents in Palm Beach County. The wide-ranging programs include children and family counseling, a substance abuse recovery program, and home-based parenting programs designed for pregnant moms and parents of children from infants through the teenage years.
In addition, the Center operates the SAFE Kids Program specializing in treating victims of various forms of abuse and/or violence and is the only sexual abuse treatment provider in Palm Beach County that is officially recognized by the Florida Department of Health.