To incoming Davis High School seniors Emma Agruss, Anna Hodgson, Lillian Whithaus, Emma Robinson and her sister, soon-to-be sophomore Meg Robinson, a charitable tea was a simple way to do something fun together. Four years later, the team has raised more than $2,000 for local charities in what has become an annual affair.
“I love to organize events,” said Emma Robinson, whose idea it was to host a party and give back at the same time. “Our moms inspired us to be community-minded and generating funds was a natural part of our planning.”
According to Agruss, these friends since first grade at Willett Elementary School (and even earlier for Meg) also have given independently to local causes. “We don’t take extensive vacations or spend a lot on ourselves,” she said. “We like to donate what we can.”
Held on a Sunday afternoon every June, guests are offered one of three seatings and served a variety home-baked goods, coffee, lemonade, and, of course, tea. Tickets are $10, though some attendees contribute beyond the suggested donation.
Each year, the young women take turns choosing a local charity. They’ve also watched their proceeds grow from about $300 for their first attempt to nearly $1,000 recently. Their latest tea benefited the Yolo Crisis Nursery.
“It started very small and turned into something where we are really making a difference,” said Lillian Whithaus, who explained how the group united out of a sense of friendship and support for one another, this time assisting Emma Robinson, who may seek a career in event planning.
“I like to do it because there are a lot of charities in Yolo County that aren’t the big names,” added Hodgson. “It’s a fun way to draw attention to local services.”
When it was her turn to designate a charity, Hodgson chose Yolo County Court Appointed Special Advocates. Other recipients have included the Food Bank of Yolo County and the Davis Bridge Foundation.
“A thousand dollars is a lot of diapers,” said Heather Sleuter, director of the Yolo Crisis Nursery. “Defraying expenses through such incredible generosity is essential to our survival. We’re so thankful to have been chosen this year.”
Next June, Agruss will select the lucky organization — likely something having to do with the environment.
With graduation just a year away for all but Meg Robinson, next year’s tea might be their last. Meg, however, has other ideas. “I don’t believe 2014 should be our final year; we’re reaching a lot of people. I hope my sister and friends will come back from college and continue the tradition.”