The Hilton Garden Inn’s fifth anniversary celebration included a $1,000 donation (above) and more than 150 toys (left) donated to the Celebrate Birthdays nonprofit organization. Pictured above are (l.-r.) Lori Behrendt of Emerald Hospitality Assoc. (which owns the hotel), Celebrate Birthdays co-founder Belinda Leto and Lisa Moore and Charlie Whiteacre of the Hilton Garden Inn Tampa-Wesley Chapel. (Photos by Charmaine George) 

Sometimes, the most exciting thing about a ribbon-cutting event is the food. But, while the fifth anniversary celebration for the Hilton Garden Inn Tampa-Wesley Chapel did include some pretty great food — and free drinks — the hotels market director of sales Lisa Moore and area general manager Charlie Whiteacre turned their North Tampa Bay Chamber ribbon cutting on Oct. 12 into something much more impressive, with more than 100 people attending. 

First of all, Moore had unique set-ups in three of the Hilton’s meeting rooms — one with rows of chairs, as though for a lecture, one with a circular conference table and the third with tables and chairs with black linens and gold sashes around the chairs, as you would have for a wedding or other special event. 

She also set loose the hotel’s catering staff, led by Chef Marcia, which provided a beautiful fruit display, deviled eggs, wrap sandwiches cut sushi-style, as well as pulled pork sliders, big fried shrimp, crispy egg rolls and more. 

But, perhaps the best thing was that Whiteacre and Moore had the Hilton gave a $1,000 donation and asked attendees to bring unwrapped toys to donate to “Celebrate Birthdays,” a 501(c) (3) nonprofit whose mission is “to ensure that every foster child, and all children, have the opportunity to celebrate their birthday and receive a present.” 

In addition to the big check, Moore says that more than 150 presents were collected and all of them were donated to Celebrate Birthdays. 

“It was a great event,” Moore said afterward. “We appeciate the community’s support and hope people also saw a lot of the ways they can utilize the hotel.” 

For more info about Celebrate Birthdays, visit For info about the Hilton Garden Inn, call Moore at (813) 591-6907. 

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