It’s a Chocolate Thing, again, for Gateway to Discovery

An afternoon full of sweets will help women who are overcoming addiction during Gateway to Discovery’s fifth annual fundraiser, It’s a Chocolate Thing.

Guests will have the opportunity to enjoy sweets, bid on the silent auction items, learn about addiction, meet women of Gateway and hear their stories from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 400 S. 13th St.

This year’s dessert competition will be a little different, said Studio Director Belinda Cardona.

“Before, you didn’t have prizes and you didn’t win a title,” Cardona said. “But now you get named “Town Chocolatier” and take a trophy home, and you have prizes.”

For $5 admission — children 4 and under are admitted free — guests will get to sample desserts from 18 to 20 competitors, and vote on which chocolate goody is the most delicious.

“Another thing we’re doing different this year is trying to make it more family-friendly,” Cardona said. “We’ll have selfie booths, where you can dress up in costumes.”

Willy Wonka will also be there to greet people as they come in and pose for pictures with the kids, she said.

This year’s event is dedicated to the memory of Janelle Cravens, the former studio director, who passed away last year.

“She always planned the event. It was on the 11th, and she passed away on the seventh,” Cardona said. “She had a heart attack.”

And, of course, this year will feature a silent auction with more than 50 items to be sold.

Those include a table and chair set, a large mirror donated by the Beacon of Hope men’s shelter, chairs donated by the prison, and a large bond from 1874.

“It’s just a historical document,” Cardona said.

Gateway to Discovery is a long-term residential treatment program for substance abuse. Hope Sweet Hope Studio, 1900 Fifth Ave. S., offers the residents a therapeutic work site.

The residents commit to two years in a community of recovery, receiving housing, food, therapy, education, and job training, without cost to them. The residents learn social and other life skills crucial to maintaining sobriety and becoming independent contributing members of society.