Children’s Book Stands Test of Time

The Plankinton children are captured in last year’s Charity Ball children’s book.  (Staff Photo: Elizabeth Ygartua)
The Plankinton children are captured in last year’s Charity Ball children’s book.
(Staff Photo: Elizabeth Ygartua)

Everyone knows the annual Crystal Charity Ball is the height of fashion, society, and philanthropy. But it’s also the height of family and community tradition, as far as the children’s book is concerned.

The Crystal Charity Ball children’s book, for those that don’t know, is a longstanding way to raise money and showcase families in and around Dallas. Going back to 1957 when it first began as a date book, it continues to be cherished by parents and grandparents alike.

Families can purchase a page to show off their cute kiddos of all ages, or they can go the charitable route.

“If you don’t have a child or yocrystal-charity3ur kids are out of college or married and you don’t have grandkids yet, you can do a beneficiary page, which all of our official photographers are assigned to go photograph,” said children’s book chair Melissa Macatee, who happens to be a photographer herself.

Of course, all the page purchases go toward the various beneficiaries, so each one is its own charitable action. No matter the purchase, it’s practically become a rite of passage for many Park Cities families.

“Year to year, you can watch people grow up through the books,” Macatee said. “I had 30 years worth of books in my house when I remodeled. There were some pictures of me as a child, which I think is really funny.”

Subjects choose from four different participating photographers: Gittings, Haynsworth, James French, and John Derryberry.

“We’ve been participating ever since the book started,” photographer Holt Haynsworth said. “We’re second-generation, so my father started doing it in the late 1970s.”

Having worked with Crystal Charity that long, Haynsworth has seen some of the families grow up over decades.

“I’m photographing the grandkids that my father shot two generations before,” he said. “And a neat thing about the ball book is that it introduces new families into what the Crystal Charity Ball is all about. It’s still one of the most prestigious organizations in Dallas.”

Haynsworth and the other photographers contribute the portraits to Crystal Charity at no cost — of both the families and the organizations the book supports.

“We go to the beneficiaries and photograph everything that’s happening there so can show members what they do,” he said.

The book is debuted each year at the ball and distributed to those who purchased a page. Additional pages are available for purchase after that point.

In the days of Facebook and iPhones, it’s a good excuse for families to slow things down and get a formal portrait done. Many use their copies as coffee-table books and keepsakes through the years.

“It’s a great way to capture that moment. Children are just so naturally beautiful and so innocent,” Macatee said. “It’s near and dear to my heart for a variety of reasons.”

2014 Beneficiaries

Goal: $5,127,886

Vogel Alcove children benefit from gala. (Photos: James French)
Vogel Alcove children benefit from gala. (Photos: James French)

Café Momentum: $487,640
Culinary Job Training for Juvenile Offenders: Eat. Drink. Change Lives.

Dallas CASA: $960,290
Crystal Charity Ball Voices for Children Wing: Abused children can’t wait.

Equest: $851,500
Texas Horse Park – Children’s Programming: Children. Horses. Hope.

Mercy Street: $733,533
Mercy Street Mentoring Program: Walking in faith with children on their journey to graduation.

Vogel Alcove: $741,380
The Soar Program: Where homeless children get the chance to soar.

Wesley-Rankin Community Center: $750,000
Wesley-Rankin Community School – Early Childhood Education Center: Changing the academic path for children.

Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic: $603,543
Pediatrics for the New South Oak Cliff Health Center. Meeting the health care needs of impoverished children and families.

Trinity River Audubon Center
Eco Cruises: Hands-On Science Education

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