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SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. is kicking off its 2019 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest fundraising season with the announcement of a new organizational focus on mental and behavioral health.

With a 10-year history of raising $25 million in lifesaving funds in support of organizations committed to pediatric health care and education, SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc.’s annual signature fundraising event will now shine a brighter light on mental illness. The majority of the proceeds from the 2019 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest’s auction will be allocated to local organizations dedicated to enhancing mental and behavioral health, with another portion of the funds continuing to support pediatric health care services at Golisano Children’s Hospital and pediatric healthcare educational programs at Florida Gulf Coast University and Florida SouthWestern State College.

SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. has named Christin Collins, Brooke Denson and Debbie Toler as chairpersons of the 2019 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest. The Grand Tasting and Live Auction will take place at noon on Feb. 24, 2019, at a new venue, the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa in Bonita Springs. The theme of the 2019 event is “Building Healthy Minds,” aligning with SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc.’s new mental and behavioral health focus.


Brooke Denson


Debbie Toler

Christin Collins

SWFL Children’s Charities, Inc. is also announcing a new partnership with the Southwest Florida Community Foundation to enhance its grant application and selection process. The partnership will be instrumental in selecting the annual beneficiaries of the Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest, leveraging the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s vast resources to implement criteria to assess potential beneficiaries of the mental and behavioral health focus, as well as the stewardship of funds and monitoring of performance and results.

“The demand for mental health services is far greater than what is currently available in our region, and we received an overwhelming response in 2017 through our event’s Fund-A-Cause for mental and behavioral health. Since then, the momentum has continued to grow,” said Debbie Toler, co-chair of the 2019 Southwest Florida Wine & Food Fest. “Thousands of local children are affected by these invisible illnesses, and as an organization, we see an opportunity to truly serve as a champion for mental and behavioral health within our community. We are thrilled to support this initiative in a greater capacity through our annual fundraising event, working together to build healthy minds and break the stigma against mental illness.”