Gifts of Love, Sips of Tea

Proving that there’s more to its business than tea, Kaleisia Tea Lounge hosts a yearly search for a non-profit organization to benefit from its Gifts of Love Auction and Tea Tasting. News of this year’s search fell on the ears of an individual who works with The Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at USF, who suggested the organization should benefit from this year’s auction. After looking into the program, Kaleisia owners decided it would be right for them.

“It is a great cause because Autism isn’t a disorder that many people are aware of,” Kaleisia co-owner Kim Pham said. “We wanted it to be educational based as well.”

According to its Web site,, CARD is a free community-based program that helps children and adults with dual sensory impairment, autism spectrum disorder, a sensory impairment with other disabilities, or an autistic-like disabilities.

The Seahorse Orchestra will perform during the event. Its MySpace profile describes the band’s sound as “something like Syd Barrett’s Pink Floyd mixed with a bit of the Beatles, a bit of Serge Gainsbourg, a bit of Nino Ferrer, a bit of the Zombies, a bit of the Centurions and – when improperly agitated – can take on a Velvet Underground/MC5 kind of vibe.”

Those who attend will be entered into a raffle for a $50 Kaleisia Gift Certificate, as well as a variety of gift baskets.

“I think it’s going to be a pretty good turn out,” Kaleisia employee John McKenzie said. “We have a whole lot of people who are willing to volunteer a whole lot of good stuff for it.”

There will be a live silent auction with a twist. Participants will be able to bid on a variety of services, including the chance to shadow a surgeon at Tampa General Hospital for a day. Other items up for action include various instructional lessons, such as one-on-one dance, art, cooking and language lessons. The auction is affordable, with the bidding starting at $5.

“It’s right before Valentine’s Day, and many people who come go the mall to purchase Valentine gifts – this is a good place to start, because not only are they contributing to a great cause, they are able to buy some great gifts,” Pham said. Free tea will be provided, but all tea purchased during the event will also benefit CARD. As a further act of service, the staff will be donating their time that night.

Tickets are $5 if purchased in advance and $7 at the door.

Kaleisia Tea Lounge is located at 1441 E. Fletcher Ave., Tampa. The Gifts of Love Auction and Tea Tasting will be held Sunday from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.