WINGS fundraiser raises money to help domestic violence victims

CHICAGO -- Domestic violence continues to be a serious issue in Chicago. But there are groups working to provide shelter for women and children trying to escape.

The Sweet Home Chicago Holiday Brunch is the event of the season for about 200 of Chicago’s youngest, cutest and most endearing on the social scene.

“My aunt always invites us to go, and we always like to go,” LuLu Quinn, even attendee, said.

It’s one of the hottest tickets in town, and not one invitation is issued. It sounds exclusive, but that’s not the case. Loyal supporters and generous corporations rush to sponsor tables at the 14th annual event for WINGS. More than $900,000 was raised Sunday for Illinois’ largest provider of domestic violence services.

“It’s really a time for kids and parents to spend time together at the holiday season,” John Canning, WINGS supporter, said.

“We get to celebrate all the work we do at WINGS to help women and children escape domestic violence, and we do it in a fun, festive, party way,” Rebecca Darr, WINGS CEO, said.

Watching snowmen be shaped from balloons and a chance to pet K-9 comfort dogs were big draws on Sunday. Also on hand were the fixings to fashion a gingerbread house to take home. These weren’t as grand as the one on display at the door but a chance to talk to Mr. and Mrs. Claus was what Agnes Quinn came for. She’s asking for a guitar for Christmas.

WINGS provides emergency and longer term housing with full service for women and their kids looking to permanently escape abuse. WINGS has served more than 1100 adults and children in the past year. Close to 100 percent leave their abuser permanently.

“The whole issue of domestic violence is something I can get very passionate about. It comes down to bullying and that makes me angry,” Rita Canning, WINGS Chairman of the Board, said.

The Chicago Police Department receives an average of 500 domestic violence calls a day. Organizers hope that through events like this and outreach, victims know there is help available.

“With the NFL and some of the things you’ve heard over the years happening in the sports world that brought it to the forefront of the media’s attention, people feel free now to call. They know that they can get help and don’t have to suffer,” Darr said.

For more information on WINGS, visit their website.