Entertainment & Events

Philanthro Productions ends year with epic party, raising money and awareness for Pencils of Promise

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Exotic belly dancers oscillated their bodies fluidly and entranced onlookers, who had earlier been dancing to the music of Bruno Mars and Rhianna on the second floor of the posh W Hotel, located adjacent to the hip Gaslamp District.

Up just one level, a large crowd amassed at the rooftop bar, complete with a faux beach, DJ and a view of the late night San Diego skyline. Across from the bar, a giant screen projected video images of six other similar events taking place across the country.

Down on the first floor, guests entered, but not before lining up against the step-and-repeat wall and getting their photos taken like celebrities outside of an award show.

But this was not an award show.

This November event was POP!, a benefit to raise money for Pencils of Promise, a multi-city party aimed at spreading awareness and providing financial assistance to bringing education to children in developing countries.

Behind all of the partying and the fun is Philanthro Productions, an event production and promotion nonprofit aimed at getting young adults involved in philanthropy.

“Our goal was to raise money for the building of new schools and also aid in Pencils of Promise’s efforts to empower young adults,” said Stephanie Dang, Co-President of Philanthro’s San Diego chapter.

The Los Angeles and San Francisco chapters of Philanthro also participated by putting on similar events in their respective cities. It marked the first time all three chapters of Philanthro hosted simultaneous events for the same cause, according to Dang.

“Because it was a multi-city event, we learned a lot from the other chapters and were able to bounce ideas off of each other,” Dang said. “Each city’s event had its own feel and had some different operational elements, but the synergy and creativity that led up to POP! is pretty palpable.”

In addition to the aforementioned three cities, the Manhattan-based Pencil of Promise charity also hosted events in Boston, Dallas, Denver and New York.

All of the proceeds raised at the events in the seven cities went to Pencils of Promise, and collectively they raised enough money to build an entirely new school in a developing country.

While Philanthro isn’t the first organization to spread awareness on social issues and encourage philanthropic donations to charitable causes in young adults, it’s how they they do it that sets them apart from the others.

The San Diego chapter of Philanthro, established in 2007, has already hosted a number of parties and mixers that benefited the causes such as the San Diego Arts and Entertainment Guild and YMCA’s Y-Friendz, Planet Cancer, Upward Bound House and Invisible Children.

“While contribution is important, we also wanted to make sure that we differentiate ourselves from the average club night,” Dang said. “We added gifts, performers, and food so that our guests felt that it was not your average night out on the town.”

And it wasn’t.

You won’t find too many extravagant parties taking up the first three floors of a swanky hotel in Downtown San Diego targeting specifically at your twenty-somethings.

It had a little something for everyone, no matter what their poison might be. Not a fan of the dance floors or the lounge by the rooftop bar? Philanthro set up educational game booths in the lobby. Next to it was a Fotobox photo booth, where guests lined up to take photos, donning all sorts of silly props.

“The photo booth was definitely one of my favorite parts of the night,” said Shamin Loi. “I loved how you had just six seconds to get in a different pose, and then you had to do it three times. I definitely had a lot of fun with that.”

Party-goers who arrived early enough were able to indulge on doughnut bites made freshly by San Diego-based Dolce Doughnuts. For those who weren’t able to get their hands on the delicious doughnuts, sponsor Popchips was present to ensure everyone had something for a snack.

Belly dancers took over the second level dance floor, leaving the roomful of people spectating, while guests took turns getting their faces decorated by professional face painters.

As the night wound down, most of the guests departed with a sense of satisfaction.

“It feels great to be able to have a great time dancing and partying with my friends but still be able to contribute to a good cause” Loi said.

The sentiment was shared by Dang as well. “In my years as being part of this amazing organization, I can honestly say that POP! is definitely one of the best parties that the San Diego chapter has ever thrown. There was a good vibe and guests came out saying the night was epic,” Dang said. “I am so incredibly proud of my team. We worked really hard and POP! was a major success.”

Courtesy Photos from Nathanial Kam Photography

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