Junior League Black Diamond Ball
Ashley Gibson Barnett speaks at last year's Junior League Black Diamond Ball. Seen behind her are some of the backpacks that were later filled with school supplies and given to local students in need.

Junior League of Greater Lakeland, Inc. (JLGL) announces the third annual Black Diamond Ball sponsored by Ashley Gibson Barnett to be hosted at Bonnet Springs Park in Lakeland on Saturday, March 4, from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Every year JLGL raises thousands of dollars on behalf of students within Polk County to support League programs such as Reading is Fundamental (RIF), World of Reading, and Ready to Read. 

Barnett shared, “The mission of this event is personal to me. My mother, Tammy, spent her entire career invested in the lives of children, working in some of the most diverse school systems and counties as an educator and administrator. Growing up, I attended the most diverse high school in my county, and witnessed firsthand many of my peers struggling beyond the classroom, facing many challenges – even hunger. My mother-in-law, Carol Jenkins Barnett, created an enduring and impactful legacy as an advocacy leader for early childhood education in the state of Florida, supporting many education initiatives like the United Ways Reading Pals and Success by Six.”

Barnett went on to say, “These women taught me that for any child to be successful in the classroom and beyond we must do all we can to give them the resources and tools they need to succeed. Now becoming a mother myself, sponsoring Black Diamond Ball means so much to me in continuing their legacies; we are helping children come to school confident and ready to learn.”

In 2022 the Junior League of Greater Lakeland raised more than $145,000 during the Black Diamond Ball in support of our mission to create awareness of issues that affect women’s and children’s wellness within Polk County. 

Last year more than 3,000 backpacks filled with school supplies went into the hands of children in our community who needed it most. That’s more than 7,250 items of clothing filling the Clothes Closet at the local Tenoroc High School, which provides new clothing items to high school students, along with toiletries and snacks, free of charge. 

Thousands of children within Polk County are in need of clean clothes and supplies. 1 in 5 children in Polk County lives in a household that struggles to put food on the table and clothes on their backs.

“The Junior League is ecstatic to host our third annual Black Diamond Ball. The League hosts this annual gala each spring and consistently has doubled its fundraising goals each year. Our focus for this event is to raise funds that help clothe our community through clothes closets at local high schools and through providing book bags filled with clothing basics and school supplies for community partners to be able to distribute to those in need. Our goal this year is to provide more than 7,000 items to children in our community. Through the support of our community partners, sponsors and donors, we will be able to do just that,” stated Junior League of Greater Lakeland Board President Maggie Briggs. 

The Junior League of Greater Lakeland, Inc. has made the children of Polk County a priority.  JLGL raises awareness of the impacts of poverty on local children and invites the Polk County community to support our schools which oftentimes, are the ones best positioned to go beyond education and feed, care, and build the self-esteem of children during the day. 

The third annual Black Diamond Ball will be held on March 4, 2023, and will include an evening of jazz, custom cocktails, casino games, and entertainment as The Junior League of Greater Lakeland, Inc. raises funds to support children from Polk County.

For more information on all events, updates, and links to purchase tickets online, visit www.jlgl.org/events/ball/. Individual tickets for this event start at $150.00. For more information on event and table sponsorship please contact Heide Evans at gala@jlgl.org

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