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Week of Chocolate raises money for charity



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Terri Porter and Teresa Lehr talk to their friends Wednesday as they wait for the five course meal at Truffles Fine Cuisine & 56 Degrees Bar to be served. The meal was part of the Bloomington Week of Chocolate.  Rose Bythrow Buy Photos

A local nonprofit is combining food, music, dance, science and art in a series of events with a unifying theme: chocolate.

LIFEDesigns' Week of Chocolate is a festival involving a variety of events that benefit local nonprofit organizations, including LIFEDesigns. All events have a chocolate theme. LIFEDesigns is a nonprofit that serves seniors and people with disabilities in south-central Indiana.

“Our focus is making sure people have homes and have jobs in the community,” LIFEDesigns’ chief development officer Stephanie Shelton said.

According to LIFEDesigns’ website, the 2016 Week of Chocolate supported causes like mental illness, disability, poverty, homelessness and hunger at its fundraising events.

LIFEDesigns' services include community living, development of affordable housing, health care coordination, behavior support services, employment services and educational programs.

The Week of Chocolate events began Feb. 3, and it will continue until Feb. 19. The festival has expanded since it first started, so the name is somewhat misleading, Shelton said.

“In the future, we may be renaming it to Weeks of Chocolate,” she said.

This year’s events have been successful so far, Shelton said. A Mardi Gras-themed art display at the Vault at Gallery Mortgage included art that will be featured at the upcoming “Art of Chocolate” event. A yoga class and bingo night offered chocolate, and a five-course meal at Truffles Restaurant included a chocolate inspired menu with wine pairings.

One of the upcoming events is “Art of Chocolate,” which will take place Friday in the Indiana Memorial Union. The event’s Facebook page described the Mardi Gras themed event as an “absolutely decadent evening.” It includes a dinner, cocktails, an online auction and music, and people are encouraged to wear masks.

The event will also feature the “Chocolate Painted People,” who are live models painted in chocolate.

This is the biggest event in the Week of Chocolate, Shelton said. She has been planning the event for about a year.

“It’s totally new and different than anything we’ve done before,” she said.

One of the upcoming events is the Chocolate Prom, which is a dance for all ages that includes a chocolate fountain.

Week of Chocolate also includes a Valentine’s Day event called “The Rhythm of Love,” which features wine and chocolate tastings, art, music, and poetry.

“WonderLab After Dark: Chocolate!” will allow people 21 and older to learn the science behind chocolate, sample varieties of chocolate and enjoy local food, beer and wine.

The final event is a performance by local band Blue Hugh and the Quarry Dogs at Player’s Pub.

These events give LIFEDesigns customers opportunities to become involved in the community, Shelton said. For example, one of their customers will be a DJ at “Art of Chocolate.”

“Each one of these events is so much fun, and people come together and have these amazing experiences,” Shelton said.

Shelton said she wants these events to bring more awareness of people living with disability and what LIFEDesigns does.

“We want to inspire the culture shift that people with disability are not different than anyone else,” she said. “They are just people. We want to give them the opportunity to live like anyone else.”

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