It's to help people, no doy!

Back in the 80s, singer Cyndi Lauper climbed the charts with her anthem “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”

While the song was a monster hit, Lauper missed the mark a bit. Some girls – like longtime friends Leslie Floyd, Lisa Bellomy, and Jimmie Boisjolie – want to have fun AND help others at the same time. The trio is the force behind Girls Night Out with a Cause, a twice-a-year gathering of like-minded women who get together for fun, food, fellowship, and philanthropy.

The next GNO on July 19 provides an opportunity for participants to donate school supplies, cash, or gift cards to benefit Sharing and Caring. The non-profit organization distributes supplies to students in need to help them prepare for the new school year. The GNO – Tools for School event begins at 6 p.m. in the back room of L.J. Schooners restaurant in the Bluewater Bay Marina Complex, located at 290 Yacht Club Drive.

“Sharing and Caring does such a great job collecting school supplies, and we wanted to help,” Boisjolie said. “It’s just a great way to get together with friends and support the cause.”

Boisjolie said participants may order off the menu during the event, or the restaurant may offer some specials. People who would like to donate to the cause but are unable to attend the GNO may drop off their donations at the marina complex prior to the event.

“The main thing we want is for people to enjoy some fellowship while helping people in need,” she added.

Lending a hand to people in Okaloosa County, Florida

The idea for the GNO began back in 2011 when Leslie Floyd heard that a friend was selling jewelry to help finance a trip to work at an orphanage. Floyd enlisted Lisa Bellomy and several other high school friends to get together to raise money to help the woman realize her dream.

“I was just at the point in my life where I had retired after 25 years of flying (as a flight attendant for Delta Airlines), and I was looking for something to be a part of,” Floyd said. “Many of my friends of 48-plus years were in the same place in their lives. We wanted to give back to the community, and GNO gave us a way to do it.”

While those early gatherings began with Floyd and Bellomy’s circle of friends (many of whom date back to their early school years), over time, word began to spread to women throughout the community.

“We reached out to Jimmie Boisjolie, and everything just grew organically,” Floyd added. “She is so involved in the community and has a large network for friends who wanted to help.”

A legacy of caring

ver the years, GNO has helped many causes, including assisting a needy expectant mother and other individuals in need of support. In addition to the annual school supply drive held in July, the group sponsors a holiday angel tree event to provide Christmas gifts for children in the Guardian ad Litem program as well as those assisted by Sharing and Caring.

“There’s such a sense of community in Niceville,” Floyd said. “It’s nice to be able to share something like this with women who share those values.”

For a list of school supplies needed by local students, visit home. To RSVP to attend GNO-Tools for School, call 850-897-6400.

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