Korbel champagne, live music and enticing hors d'oeuvres welcomed a black-tie crowd to Vintners Inn on Saturday evening for a celebration of the oftentimes mutually transforming magic of volunteering in service to others.

The occasion was the Have a Heart benefit and gala of the Volunteer Center of Sonoma County. Guests wore their shimmering best, and the gathering place was awash in fresh spring flowers and dashes of purple, green and orange.

The pre-dinner social hour allowed for leisurely conversation, shopping for silent-auction treasures and visits to a well-stocked wine counter and Linda's Libations, a cocktail bar hosted by Volunteer Center board member Linda Challoner.

Dinner boasted a duet of seasonal fresh fish and braised shortribs, complemented by mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. And then, chocolate mousse cake with caramel sauce and peanut brittle.

There was a live auction that featured some lavish items and getaway packages.

And then came the Next Best Thing.

This was an opportunity for Volunteer Center supporters perhaps unable to dedicate time to tutoring a public-school student through the Literacy Program to donate essential dollars instead.

The pledges may well translate into changed lives of local children in need of a caring person's assistance with their reading, math and science.