UPDATED: Red Cross, Komen join Salvation Army in departing Mar-a-Lago

The Salvation Army is marching away from The Mar-a-Lago Club.

Following in the footsteps of Cleveland Clinic Florida, the American Cancer Society, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, and several others, the organization will be shaking its tambourine someplace else this season.

>> Keeping track at home? Here’s a list of who’s leaving Mar-a-Lago

>> Palm Beach chamber head to charities: ‘Have a conscience’ on Mar-a-Lago

Joining in the formation today are Susan G. Komen, the Autism Project of Palm Beach County, and the grande dame of them all, the International Red Cross Ball.

President Trump’s remarks in the wake of the violent demonstrations by neo-Nazi groups in Charlottesville were, apparently, the impetus for moving the Holiday Snow Ball, scheduled for Dec. 7, from the president’s winter home.

>> Palm Beach officials: We are prepared for violent protests here

In a prepared statement, a spokesperson said “The Salvation Army relies heavily on fundraising events like the Holiday Snow Ball in Palm Beach to further our mission of helping those in need through a range of social services including food for the hungry, relief for disaster victims, clothing and shelter to the homeless, and opportunities for the underprivileged. Because the conversation has shifted away from the purpose of the event, we will not host it at Mar-a-Lago.”

Palm Beach residents Nikita and Paula Zukov, who are chairman and chairman of the ball, are in Croatia. Calls to Nikita Zukov’s cellphone were answered with a “Mailbox Full” message.

The Salvation Army’s decision came amid mounting social media pressure to drop Mar-a-Lago. Some Twitter users said they would no longer donate to the Salvation Army and vowed to stop shopping at its thrift stores if the non-profit didn’t change venues.

“Do the right thing,” one person wrote to The Salvation Army on Twitter. “Stand against hatred & bigotry, Nazis and KKK. Don’t continue to host your events at Mar-A-Lago.”

“Please do the right thing and cancel your Mar-a-largo (sic) event,” another Twitter user said. “If not @goodwill gets my business from now on.”

The club’s ancient oak exit doors are seeing some heavy traffic. Shortly after the Salvation Army announced its departure from the presidential digs, so, too did Komen, the Autism Project, and the International Red Cross Ball.

The venue “has increasingly become a source of controversy and pain for many of our volunteers, employees and supporters,” the charity said in a statement released Friday afternoon.

On Saturday, the club lost the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, which moved its dinner dance to Mar-a-Lago after being at The Breakers last season. 

Executive Director Amanda Skier said in a release: "The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach is a nonprofit dedicated to protecting and celebrating the unique architectural and cultural heritage of Palm Beach. Given the current environment surrounding Mar-a-Lago, we have made the decision to move our annual dinner dance."

Also Saturday, Hearing the Ovarian Cancer Whisper board President Fern Fodiman said the organization was changing its venue “with a return to our roots at the historically beautiful Flagler Museum.”

“For us, this event is about raising money for research, educational programs, and financial assistance for women undergoing treatment. We are committed to our mission, therefore, this is not a political statement made by H.O.W,” the statement said.

Lois Pope, who described herself recently as a Trump loyalist, has hosted her Lady In Red gala at The Mar-a-Lago Club for almost all of its 24 years. 

That may change. She issued a statement Friday recommending that her board move this year's event.

>> Another hit to Mar-a-Lago? Lois Pope’s gala for LIFE likely to leave

The Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation is a born-in-Palm-Beach charity, named for the son of its founders, Joyce and Dusty Sang. It announced Friday that its Jan. 10 symposium luncheon will not be at Mar-a-Lago as originally planned. 

“The work of the foundation is not political, but rather it is focused on changing the course of Bipolar Disorder and improving the lives of people regardless of race, color, religion, creed, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or national origin,” a prepared statement said. “The foundation today stands with the community and has cancelled its luncheon at The Mar-a-Lago Club and will be moving to another venue in Palm Beach that will be announced at a later date.” 

Still on the fence is the Palm Beach Habilitation Center, which has its Hab-a-Hearts auxiliary luncheon scheduled at the Mar-a-Lago Club on March 4. 

“As of right now, we’re staying,” said David Lin, the center’s director. “We have to talk to our auxiliary and the board, which is putting it on the agenda for its meeting.”

But not everybody is jumping the Mar-a-Lago ship.

The Achilles Freedom Team of Wounded Vets’ 13th annual ‘Spirit of America Holiday Dinner and Concert’ isn’t going anywhere.

“We have a contract with Mar-a-Lago,” said Mary Bryant McCourt, president and co-founder of the organization. “They have been loyal supporters since 2007. We’re about supporting veterans and people with disabilities, not politics.”

The Palm Beach Police Foundation Policeman’s Ball, easily the most heavily attended event on the calendar with an excess of 700 guests, is staying the course.

For now, anyway.

“We are going ahead with our plans 2018,” co-founder John Scarpa said, through a spokeswoman, of the Jan. 6 event. “It is the only venue in town which can manage a crowd of size. However, we will be keeping an eye on developments.”

The folks who run the Kravis Center wine auction, scheduled for Feb. 1, would be well-advised to keep the corkscrews packed up for the time being.

The performing arts center’s board of directors is taking a hard look at the choice of venue.

“The Palm Beach Wine Auction is a charity event that benefits arts education for children in our community,” CEO Judy Mitchell said in a prepared statement. “We have received concerns about this event being at Mar-a-Lago. We have a process to address such issues and we are currently engaged in that process. We are contacting our board leadership and anticipate our organization making a decision about the location of this event in the next few business days. All decisions at the Kravis Center are well-considered and contemplative and this decision will be treated in the same manner.”


Staff writer Jennifer Sorentrue contributed to this report.

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