Giovanni's benefit draws lots of interest

Sunday dinner sold out, but party's open to all
By: Gloria Beverage, Colfax Record Editor
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While Sunday night’s benefit dinner for Giovanni’s employees is sold out, there’s still a full evening of entertainment and fundraising planned. Giovanni’s Restaurant at Shady Glen burned down on Nov. 18, leaving 27 people unemployed. Within hours of the disaster, several former employees and longtime friends of the restaurant began organizing this weekend’s fundraiser. The benefit will be held from 4 to 10 p.m. at Sierra Vista Center, 55 School St. Incredibly, pre-sale tickets for the spaghetti feed are sold out, reports Sarah Murphy, one of the organizers of the event. “No worries, though, because there is no cover charge for the no-host full bar, karaoke and raffles,” she said. “Immediately following the dinner, we’ll have a live auction and an after-party with live music.” Karaoke will kick-off at 4 p.m. Raffle prizewinners will be revealed every 30 minutes. According to Barbra Conner, merchants and local businesses have donated nearly 50 items for the raffle and live auction. Raffle prizes range from gift certificates to area restaurants and businesses, gift baskets, cash, classes and massages to tools and lottery tickets. A professional face painter, Tammy Sumner of Colfax, will be painting faces for $5 each throughout the evening with proceeds going to the relief fund. Immediately following the dinner, which will be served from 4 to 7 p.m., Mike Timmons will begin the live auction. He will be asking for bids on a variety of items, including one-week rental of a villa in Cabo, a rafting trip for two, lift tickets to Boreal Sno Park and Soda Springs ski resorts, a season pass to Long Ravine and a $400 certificate for an auto or truck detail at Winner Chevrolet as well as paintings by local artists Roy Dryer III, Debbie Combie and Sandra DeLong. Also on the auction block will be a dinner for a party of eight prepared by one of Giovanni’s chefs, three hours of computer tech work and a ton of wood stove pellets donated by Dan and Suzanne Tustin of Auburn Home and Energy. Music during the after-party will be provided by Jamal Walker & the Loo$e Change Blues Band, Brazen Hussies & the Bad Boyz and The Dyin’ Breed Outlaw Country Band. A tribute to the restaurant, which was opened in 1941 by Gulio and Josephine Panelli, a digital photo presentation will also be shown. The collection of memories of customers and employees will be presented to the founders’ son, John Panelli, who reopened the restaurant under his Italian name, Giovanni, in 1982. “So many people and businesses have come together in our local community to support this event — Sierra Market, Costco, the Lions Clubs of Auburn and Colfax, the Gold Country Lionesses, Colfax High S Club and countless other volunteers — from former Giovanni’s employees to former customers,” said Jenny Duncan, executive director of the Colfax Area Chamber of Commerce. “It’s amazing how the greater Colfax community has pulled together to support this fundraiser.” Organizers of the event also expressed their gratitude for support from the community. “It is difficult to adequately express our thankfulness and deep sense of gratitude towards everyone involved in this huge undertaking,” said Murphy. “We are extremely moved by all the outpouring of support and the remarkable response from the community. A sincere thank you from all of us at Giovanni’s.” Proceeds from the evening will benefit the employee relief fund. Donations to the relief fund can be made at U.S. Bank in Colfax or mailed to P.O. Box 1093, Colfax, CA 95713. Donation jars have also been placed throughout Colfax, including one at the Colfax Area Chamber of Commerce Visitors’ Center, which is open daily from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. ______ Fundraiser for Giovanni’s Employees When: From 4 to 10 p.m. Sunday Where: Sierra Vista Community Center