The New Albany Women's Network will begin raising money for An Evening in New Albany seven months before the March 1 event.

The New Albany Women's Network will begin raising money for An Evening in New Albany seven months before the March 1 event.

"We're trying to raise a collective amount of funds before the event even happens," said Kerri Mollard, the New Albany Women's Network's publicity chairwoman.

The kickoff fundraiser will be from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at Plate, 29 S. High St. No cover charge or tickets will be required.

Two years ago, the nonprofit organization tried the pre-fundraising campaign and earned $30,000 in advance of An Evening in New Albany, Mollard said.

"It built a lot of buzz and excitement in the community and it created ambassadors (for the beneficiary)," Mollard said. "We want to create that again, and we want the whole community talking about the event and the powerful work the Helping Hands Center is doing."

The Helping Hands Center for Special Needs in Columbus provides educational programs and therapy for children with special needs.

Carol Argiro, the center's director of development, said the center works with 90 to 115 children -- ages pre-kindergarten to middle school -- who are not succeeding in a regular classroom environment.

"All of our children come to us with a diagnosis and an individual educational plan," Argiro said. "They are not having success in school, which isn't able to serve the needs of these kids, whether it's related to academics or social behavior."

Staff members work with children on a one-to-one or one-to-three teacher-to-student ratio, with no more than 10 children in a classroom, she said.

Argiro said their goal is to help the children transition back into a more traditional learning environment.

In the 2011-12 school year, 20 percent of the center's students made the transition, she said. Last year, 16 percent did.

"It means we're losing about one-quarter of our students every year, which is sad for us but successful for them," Argiro said.

She said many go into home schooling or enroll in a school.

"They rarely leave us to go to another (special-needs) center," Argiro said.

The center works through the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services and is working to become accredited through the Ohio Department of Education, Argiro said.

During the Aug. 3 fundraiser, Mollard said, guests can meet representatives of the center and learn more about its work.

"We hope to get individuals signed up to give personally and/or to recruit others," Mollard said.

New Albany Women's Network members toured the Helping Hands Center for Special Needs and in June unanimously chose it as beneficiary for their An Evening in New Albany fundraiser, Mollard said.

The fundraiser will be March 1, 2014, at Winding Hollow Country Club in New Albany.

Also in June, the network chose Rachel's House as the beneficiary of the annual fashion show, which will be Nov. 9 at Winding Hollow Country Club.

Rachel's House is part of Lower Light Ministries and helps female ex-offenders rebuild their lives, according to the organization's website.

For more information on the New Albany Women's Network, visit NAWN.org.