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Eighth Annual Gift for Life Gala Raises Nearly $17,000 at Las Vegas Market

This year's theme was "ERASE HATE: A Celebration of Love."

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Judy Shepard
Judy Shepard, Matthew Shepard's mother, gave a keynote talk at the gala.

Las Vegas Market announced this week that its eighth annual “Up on the Roof” charity event raised a record-breaking $16,866 to benefit Gift for Life, the gift, stationery and home decor industries’ sole charitable organization.

The 2018 fundraiser – a partnership of a manufacturer, sales agency and market center – Chavez for Charity, Fine Lines and International Market Centers – raised funds for three leading non-profit organizations: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA); The Center, the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada; and the Matthew Shepard Foundation.

“Las Vegas Market is proud to support Gift for Life in its mission to raise money for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and education,” said Esther Ossei-Anto, Senior Marketing Manager for International Market Centers and a newly-appointed Gift for Life board member. “This summer’s ‘Up on the Roof’ theme, ‘ERASE HATE: A Celebration of Love,’ was a game changer and unified the gift and home furnishings industry more than ever. Las Vegas Market was delighted to extend this year’s fundraiser to benefit a local non-profit in The Center as well as DIFFA and the Matthew Shepard Foundation.”

Three hundred supporters attended the Las Vegas Market-hosted event, which honored the 20th anniversary of the death of hate crime victim Matthew Shepard. This year’s event raised funds not only through ticket sales and auction prize bids, but also through at-Market sales of commemorative “Erase Hate” bracelets and t-shirts from Chavez for Charity.

Chavez for Charity, a fashion accessories line in the Fine Lines showroom on C10 has been supporting the Matthew Shepard Foundation since launching in January 2013. In connection with the 20th anniversary of Shepard’s murder, Fine Lines hosted “Erase Hate Day” the day before the fundraiser. Judy Shepard, mother of Matthew Shepard and founder of the organization, appeared for a meet-and-greet and signed copies of her book, “The Meaning of Matthew, My Son’s Murder in Laramie and A World Transformed.”

Judy Shepard also appeared as a keynote speaker at the benefit, asking party-goers to “Erase Hate” by rallying around the message of love.

“Hate crimes are on the rise and reporting is on the decline. ’Erase Hate’ is a very general but very important message for everybody,” Judy Shepard said. “We [as an organization] have definitely tried to do what we think Matthew would be doing in his life.” 

"The collective effort by Fine Lines, Gift for Life, ‘Up on the Roof’ and the Las Vegas Market to honor Matthew Shepard and the 20th anniversary of his death has made an impression on me that I cannot ignore,” said Julie Chavez, Founder and CEO of Chavez for Charity. “It will serve as a lighthouse as we look to create more meaningful projects through our work at Chavez for Charity. The gift of Judy Shepard’s time and presence unquestionably made an impact on everyone who had the chance to meet her. Most important, I can say we infused Judy and the Matthew Shepard Foundation with the kind of energy and support they deserve. I could not be more proud of our ‘Erase Hate’ campaign and all that it has inspired." 

Chavez for Charity was founded by Julie Chavez in 2013 and supports various charitable initiatives through the sale of its colorful fashion accessories. For more information, visit www.chavezforcharity.com.

Fine Lines Owner and Gift for Life Vice Chair Matt Katzenson added, “Taking on the issue of ‘Erase Hate’ and sharing this movement with my industry colleagues and friends has been an incredible experience.  When we as a community embrace an idea and create a platform for learning and open dialogue, the results are powerful. I am proud to be a part of the Chavez for Charity and Las Vegas Market communities and look forward to continuing our good work. Thank you all who supported this event.”

“We appreciate the ongoing commitment from Las Vegas Market in supporting DIFFA’s mission to raise awareness and grant funds to organizations that provide treatment, preventative education and advocacy to those impacted by HIV/AIDS,” said Dawn Roberson, Executive Director for DIFFA. “As a result, we were able to give a portion of proceeds from ‘Up on the Roof’ to support The Center and the Las Vegas LGBTQ community.”

“Oftentimes with HIV, it’s about awareness; and the Gift for Life ‘Up on the Roof’ event tackled just that,” said André Wade, Executive Director for the Gay & Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada. “The Center had the benefit of being exposed to local and out-of-town folks that it may not have otherwise - and will receive a charitable donation from Gift for Life, as a result, to be able to continue the work needed to prevent the spread of HIV locally and elsewhere.” 

Gift for Life was founded in 1992 and is managed by a volunteer Board of Directors who donate time, energy and resources to help unite the gift and home industries against AIDS. Since then, Gift for Life has raised more than $5 million through special events, cause-related marketing, promotions, and from corporate and individual donations. For more information, visit www.giftforlife.org and www.diffa.org.

Auction prizes at the “Up on the Roof” event included multi-night hotel stays at the ARIA Resort & Casino, The Cosmopolitan, Golden Nugget, Plaza Hotel & Casino, Stratosphere, Tropicana, Trump International Hotel and Vdara Hotel & Spa; dinners at Robert Irvine’s Public House or Oakville Steakhouse (inside Tropicana), Scarpetta’s (inside Cosmopolitan), Oscar’s Steakhouse (inside Plaza Hotel & Casino) and McCall’s Heartland Grill (inside Stratosphere); as well as a Las Vegas-themed basket by Connections Housing.

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