2nd Annual FriendsGiving at Stepping Stones Museum for Children


Second annual harvest dinner fundraiser on November 9th supports the museum’s Open Arms Accessibility Initiative

The award-winning Stepping Stones Museum for Children takes pride in listening to its community and responding to its needs and interests. Fundamental to Stepping Stones since the day it opened its doors in 2000 has been a commitment to ensure that this important educational resource is accessible to every child, family and school regardless of financial, language or special needs barriers. That commitment is embodied by the museum’s Open Arms Accessibility Initiative. On Thursday, November 9th, Stepping Stones will be hosting is 2nd annual FriendsGiving fundraiser at its iconic facility in Norwalk’s historic Mathews Park. Event proceeds will benefit the Open Arms initiative.

The festive fundraising fete brings together those who are committed to supporting the museum’s Open Arms initiative. Community leaders looking forward to enjoying a cocktail, hors d’oeuvres and networking hour beginning at 6:30 pm followed by an intimate harvest dinner, based on a delectable, Thanksgiving-inspired menu from Chef Matthew John at 7:30 pm.

“This exquisite fine dining experience will leave your heart warmed and a great number of local children and families deeply thankful for your role in making sure that the best educational opportunities are available to all children,” explained Rhonda Kiest, CEO and President of Stepping Stones Museum for Children. “Now, more than ever, as many families face greater challenges, it is vitally important we continue to receive financial support for Open Arms.”

Simply put, many children and their families would not have access to Stepping Stones without the Open Arms Accessibility Initiative. Reaching more than 45,000 children, caregivers and teachers throughout the region this year, Open Arms offers monthly free admission evenings, parent workshops, free traveling exhibits for schools and numerous other educational, informational and learning experiences to inspire lifelong learning. However, this commitment to accessibility comes with an annual cost to the non-profit children’s museum of nearly $750,000.

Proceeds from FriendsGiving will support Open Arms programming including:

  • Angel Memberships – free annual memberships for families in need
  • Monthly Accessibility Days for special needs families
  • Monthly Get Into It! FREE evenings
  • Blue Star Museums – year-round free admission for active-duty military families
  • Museums for All – reduced-admission for Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) cardholders
  • Community Admission Pass Program (CAPP) memberships – free passes for community partner organizations serving children and families in need
  • Financial assistance for Title 1 Schools
  • Early Language and Literacy Initiative (ELLI) scholarships

“FriendsGiving is a special time for gathering with museum friends to give thanks for our many blessings this past year, explore the museum’s bright future, and renew our dedication to accessibility,” said Kiest. “We invite everyone to join us to change a child’s tomorrow, today.”

The mission of Stepping Stones Museum for Children is to broaden and enrich the educational opportunities for children ages ten and under and enhance their understanding of the world. The museum seeks to create an environment that inspires lifelong learning and supports parents, caregivers and educators as facilitators of children’s explorations.

Space for FriendsGiving is limited. Single ticket prices start at $275 and a table of ten can be reserved for $2,250. Special pricing for members is $250 per ticket.

“The inaugural event was wildly successful as guests enjoyed fantastic conversations, delicious cocktails and a spectacular farm-to-table dinner in a setting that evoked the charm of a quintessential New England farm,” said FriendsGiving Event Chair Kris Granetz of Wilton. “We look forward to once again transforming our Spectacular Spaces into an autumnal-inspired environment that is sure to amaze.”

FriendsGiving is made possible by Platinum sponsors Kris and Marc Granetz and the Foster Family Fund, Gold sponsors Pitney Bowes and Marcia Selden Catering and Events, Silver sponsor SMG Corporate Services and Bronze sponsors Fairfield County Bank and the Aiello Foundation. Additional sponsorships are available and designed to celebrate and honor corporate and personal commitments to Stepping Stones Museum for Children. For information about opportunities, please contact Linda McDonald at 203-899-0606, ext. 246 or visit www.steppingstonesmuseum.org/friendsgiving.

Chef Matthew John is focused on all aspects of flavors, seasonality and freshness.

He is a Saucier by trade and has worked with renowned chefs at Luchow's, World Yacht, The Carlisle, as well as other talented professionals. He currently teaches Culinary Skills and Cleanliness at CT State Vocational Institutes.


Stepping Stones Museum for Children is an award-winning, private, non-profit 501 (c)(3) children’s museum committed to broadening and enriching the lives of children and families. For more information about Stepping Stones, to book a field trip or schedule a class, workshop or facility rental call 203-899-0606 or visit www.steppingstonesmuseum.org.

Stepping Stones Museum for Children is located at 303 West Avenue, Norwalk, CT, exit 14 North and 15 South off I-95. Museum hours are: Labor Day through Memorial Day, Tuesday-Sunday and holiday Mondays from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm; and Memorial Day through Labor Day, Monday-Sunday from 10:00 am – 5:00 pm. Admission is $15 for adults and children and $10 for seniors. Children under 1 are free. Get social with Stepping Stones on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

PHOTO: The second annual FriendsGiving Harvest Dinner fundraiser will be held at Stepping Stones Museum in Norwalk on November 9th. Pictured are Stepping Stones Board Secretary Jeff Kaplan, FriendsGiving Event Chair Kris Granetz and Jessica Kaplan enjoying last year's event. Photo courtesy of Heather Prescott Photography.

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