Power of the Purse event to support childhood literacy programs

MARSHALL – Marcy Heemeyer is pumped about the power of the purse. Heemeyer, the executive director of United Way of Southwest Minnesota, said she is excited about the upcoming sixth annual “Power of the Purse” fundraising event, which is Tuesday upstairs at TK’s Steakhouse in Marshall.

“I can’t wait,” Heemeyer said. “It’ll be fun.”

This year’s event will start at 5:30 p.m. The evening will include a social time, dinner and a cooking presentation/demonstration by chef and cookbook author Zoe Francois on how easy it is to make artisan bread in five minutes a day.

Heemeyer said she talked to Francois on the phone last week and “she said her presentation is ‘all about fun.'”

Francois has written or co-authored three cookbooks and was one of the women featured in the January 2013 Ladies Home Journal along with the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. Francois was acknowledged as one of the top food bloggers. Her blog can be found at www.zoebakes.com.

Francois’ books will be sold at the event, and she will autograph them, Heemeyer said. Half the proceeds of the books will be donated to the United Way.

“It’s really good timing because the books would make an excellent Mother’s Day or Father’s Day gift,” said Heemeyer.

The event is made possible by Women United for Early Childhood, a women’s leadership initiative of United Way of Southwest Minnesota.

“They are the glue that makes it all happen,” Heemeyer said. “They are responsible for getting the speaker, the location, soliciting the purses. We are very fortunate to have them.”

Throughout the evening, there will be a silent auction of purses and other unique items that have been donated to help raise money for United Way of Southwest Minnesota’s sponsorship of the Imagination Library program and other early childhood initiatives that work to prepare children for success in school.

The purses can be viewed at the United Way of Southwest Minnesota webpage: www.UnitedWaySWMN.org.

Heemeyer said the event is a time to “come together with girlfriends or co-workers.”

She’s been told that grandmothers, daughters and granddaughters come to the event together.

In addition to socializing, the evening will also be a chance to highlight the projects Women United for Early Childhood support, Heemeyer said. Proceeds from Power of the Purse go to benefit literacy and school readiness programs in the region, including the Imagination Library, which provides free books to children.

“We have given out over 200,000 books since we started,” Heemeyer said. “The books cost $30 per child and around 2,300 children receive them.”

Heemeyer said funds raised from Power of the Purse also help pay for school-readiness bags for kindergarten students.

“Close to 900 children this year have received school bags in 22 schools,” she said.