Charity with flavor

One in 150 children is born with autism, according to a survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. To benefit the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities (CARD) at USF, Kaleisia Tea Lounge will host their third annual Gifts of Love event on Sunday. The event will consist of both silent and live auctions, live music, a raffle and dancing.

CARD is a free community-based program that assists children and adults with dual sensory impairment, autism spectrum disorder, sensory impairments with other disabilities, and autistic-like disabilities. For more information, visitits Web site,

This is the second year Kaleisia has worked with CARD. The $3,000 raised in 2007 went into a foundation account for families to attend conferences and workshops on the most current research. This year, Kaleisia co-owner Kim Pham wants to raise $5,000.

“This is a great way to come down to an event that’s fun and also have a chance to learn about autism,” said Karen Berkman, the director of CARD. “The owners of Kaleisia are (the) most community-minded folks that we have run into in our work.”

There will be a date auction that, according to Kaleisia’s Web site, has the community’s most eligible bachelors and bachelorettes up for bid. The date includes dinner and a movie provided by the tea lounge.

“It is a community effort, so anyone (who is) a part of Kaleisia would either donate an auction item or tell their friends, or they perform,” said Pham.

There will be performances by Solesick, a local hip-hop dance company, and belly dancing by Margarita Garcia. There will also be live music by local artist Kirsten Campbell.

“I don’t know if I have a specific style,” said Campbell. “I just write what I feel and hope for the best. I can promise it will be honest and uplifting.”

All tea purchases during the event will also benefit CARD, while the Kaleisia staff and everyone involved will be donating their time.

“As a human being I have always felt the constant need to help others as best as I can,” Campbell said. “Unfortunately, considering I am a very poor college student, my time and talents are really all I have to offer. But, most importantly, this is a beautiful cause and I am so honored to be a part of it.”

Tickets are $5 if purchased in advance at Kaleisia or online at, and $7 at the door.