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Handbags for Hope Raises Over $100,000 for Literacy Network Programs

By Kim McDermott

The Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati (LNGC) hosted its ninth annual Handbags for Hope fundraiser on February 6, 2020 at the Newport Syndicate. More than 380 guests helped set a new record by raising $122,000 for Literacy Network programs.

Carol Williams, former WCPO anchor, joined entertainer Tim Goldrainer, as the emcee of the lively and memorable event. Guests raised their paddles for designer handbags, concert experiences, and a condo stay in Siesta Key and enjoyed raffles with prizes from DSW Diamonds, Kendra Scott, Holy Grail and more. For the fifth year, members from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Young Professional Group volunteered to coordinate the raffle and silent auction booths. This year alone over three dozen volunteers from Cincinnati Children’s helped to make the event run smoothly.

Mark and Angela Ginty were named the 2020 Honorary Chairs. In 2017, Angela and her employer, the Cincinnati Development Fund (CDF), hosted a meeting with Todd Bol, the founder of Little Free Libraries (LFLs). With Angela encouragement, the Literacy Network led the growth of this initiative locally, placing 150 LFLs. Angela stewards two LFLs and supports six more. In addition, CDF donated two LFLs in Lower Price Hill and Bond Hill. Angela and Mark innately understand the fundamental power of reading and work in tandem to create a stronger, more viable Cincinnati.

United Parcel Service (UPS) was also recognized for their generous volunteerism and support of the Literacy Network. Forest Russman, Kevin Wagner, Eric Merz and dozens of UPS employees used their expertise to load, transport, unload and sort over 3,400 books. UPS did not stop there. When a new shipment of 100 LFLs was delivered in the fall, UPS team members moved 22 pallets in under 30 minutes! The Literacy Network is grateful to UPS for their outstanding commitment to our community.

The most memorable part of the evening occurred when Big Dave and Ashley from the B-105 morning team awarded the 2020 Hope Award to Nick “DaBarber” Baynes. Nick has harnessed his challenging life experiences, talents and genuine concern for his neighbors to make a real difference in our community. In 2013, Nick founded the “Against The Grain Foundation” to meet the needs of those who struggle like he did as a child and teen. Through his foundation, Nick developed the “Barbers for Reading Program” to foster a love of reading. At his West End barbershop, “It’s More Than Just a Cut”, Nick not only helps his clients look good, he has created a safe haven for children to learn and be inspired. The crowd was so moved by Nick’s story they gave him a standing ovation!

President of the Literacy Network Michelle Otten Guenther shared, “This is by far my favorite night each year because we get to see and celebrate many of people who make what we do possible! All of our honorees demonstrate that we all have the power to be an agent of change by contributing our unique insight, expertise and connections. I am immensely grateful to Nick, the Gintys, the UPS team, as well as all those who support our mission, for contributing their piece and modeling the example that has created positive change throughout our community.”

The Literacy Network thanks event sponsors, guests and volunteers who made the evening such a success. Special thanks to the presenting sponsor, Hengehold Capital Management. Event sponsors include: Abby Girl Sweets Cupcakery, Dr. Rob & Ashley Altenau, B-105, The Bearded Artist, Big Pig Little Free Library, Busam Nissan, Busam Subaru, Linda & Don Capannari, Harry & Nikki Cappel, Cincinnati Development Fund, The Cobb Group, Dr. Robert & Debbie Cranley, DSW Diamonds, Empower, Ken & Cathy Feldmann, First Financial Bank, Fox19, The Gerth Family, Shelly & Joe Gillis, Tim & Shauna Goldrainer, Rob & Carrie Gould, The Guenther Family, Nick Hahn, The Holy Grail, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, J.T.M. Food Group, Ed & Lin Jung, KMK Law, Little Free Libraries, M. Hopple & Co., Andrew & Kim McDermott, Mary & Katy Meinhardt, Merrill Lynch- Hambleton/Fieler Wealth Management Group, Kevin & Christy Meyer, N2G Consulting, LLC, The Otten Family, Platinum Marketing Group, Liz & Evan Priestle, Q-102, Dr. John & Mrs. CeAnn Raterman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Scripps Howard Foundation, Kathy Ciarla - Seton High School, Seven Hills Women’s Health Center, Newport Syndicate, Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP, Unistrut, Kathy & Jay Wertz, Wycoff Lucas - Raymond James and the Zaring Family Foundation.

Save the date for next year’s Handbags for Hope on Thursday, February 11th, 2021! For more information on how you can give the gift of literacy to struggling adults and children in the Greater Cincinnati area, call (513) 621-READ or visit

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