A group of Sun City Center women called the Aqua Viva Divas specialize in serving others and having a good time.
They're part of the Blue Thong Society, a nationwide networking group of more than 300 chapters whose mission is to connect, inspire and mobilize women to make a difference in their communities.
"The group was started in 2005 by Mary Jo Wallo, a surfer chick who had just turned 50," said Kings Point resident Dana Dittmar, who founded the Aqua Viva Divas chapter in Riverview in 2007. "Her friends invited her over for a few drinks and teased that she was old enough to become a Red Hatter."
But Wallo had other ideas. She and her gal pals hatched a plan to form an alternative social club for women, Dittmar said.
"Instead of red hats, we wear blue flip-flops," Dittmar said. "Yes, we are a social group that gathers once a month to hang out together for some fun. But every Blue Thong chapter in the country must support local charities, and we do."
Currently the divas are collecting money for their 2013 Relay for Life team, which will participate in the local American Cancer Society Relay for Life event from 2 to 9 p.m. April 6 at Trinity Baptist Church.
Along with the symbolic Relay for Life sun and moon cards, luminaries and designer sunglasses the divas are now selling, they plan to hawk food the day of the event. The goal is to raise $2,500, Dittmar said.
Dittmar herself is a cancer survivor who recently celebrated 20 years free of the disease.
"Five of our 27 members have had breast cancer, so this event is especially important to us," Dittmar said. "We are celebrating the fact we're still here and remembering others who lost the fight."
Although the chapter is now based in Sun City Center, it's open to women of any age. Members come from all walks of life, Dittmar said. They meet once a month in one of their homes to socialize and discuss what charities to support. In the past these have included A Kid's Place in Valrico, Good Samaritan Mission in Balm, and Mary and Martha House.
"The purpose of our group creates a win-win," said Debbie Caneen, director of admissions at Sun Towers. "The charities benefit, and we have a great time."
Interested in joining? Call Dittmar at (813) 634-5111. The chapter's next meeting is Feb. 13.
For more information on the Blue Thong Society, visit www.bluethongsociety.com.