With a passion for helping children, Harbor Island resident Christina J. Anton, Esq. has devoted time, energy and resources to one of her favorite local charitable organizations: the Junior League of Tampa. As a member of Junior League, Christina has the opportunity to work directly with needy kids and see firsthand the impact she’s making. Along with being an active member of the community, she’s also a partner at Anton Castro Law and a third-generation Tampa native, making Christina one of our top choices for blu’s 10 Leading Ladies of 2011.
How did you become involved in Junior League?
I was looking for a place to further my contributions to the Tampa community and several of my friends suggested Junior League. As soon as I learned about their mission I knew I had found my match. Since then I have been impressed with their commitment, energy and sense of duty in working to make Tampa a better place for everyone.
What is one of your favorite memories when working with Junior League?
One of my favorite memories was organizing last year’s Halloween party for children. As a co-chair, I dressed up and led a children’s parade around the League headquarters. It was great to see so many happy children having so much fun.
What is one of your favorite charity events in Tampa Bay and why?
One of my favorite charity events is Miles for Moffit. I love running and am passionate about the wonderful work Moffit does. I have participated in the Miles for Moffit race the last several years, and last year my team was one of the top three fundraisers for the event. It was such a rewarding feeling to see all the cancer survivors we helped called on stage after the race.
As a leading lady, what is one of your proudest accomplishments?
I am most proud of starting my own law firm before the age of 30. It had long been a dream of mine, and what most excited me was the ability to integrate my love of people with my knowledge of the law. In essence, to be able to connect with people facing difficult situations, hear what was really important to them and lend my skills to helping them.
Who do you most admire in Tampa?
Rhea Law is a woman who I greatly admire. She paved the way for women in the legal field at a time when it was not easy to do so. In addition to being a phenomenal attorney she has also contributed a great deal to our community and many local charities.
Outside of charity work, what inspires you?
My inspiration comes from my many wonderful family and friends. I am a people person who loves being engaged with others and derives a lot of inspiration from those connections.
Now that we’re entering the holiday season, what is one of your favorite memories with your family?
My favorite holiday memory is time spent with my extended family at my grandparents’ house on Christmas Day. Our family has always enjoyed being together, and we have kept those traditions alive even though some of the elders are no longer with us in person. Thinking about them only makes me treasure the limited time we have to spend together even more. The tradition has not changed but we now get together at my parent’s home every Christmas Day. The love and enjoyment are still abundant.
What are a couple of your cherished holiday traditions?
I greatly enjoy accompanying my immediate family in picking out a Christmas tree each year and then bringing the tree home and decorating it. Christmas Eve is another cherished memory. Each year, all of my extended family has a great celebration. Young and old sing Christmas carols, exchange gifts and look forward to Christmas Day. It is one of the occasions where grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings and parents are all together in one place every year. I am grateful to be part of such a close and loving family.
What part of the holidays do you most look forward to?
The whole season is magical and people always seem happier and kinder. I think that the spirit of giving brings out the best in people and the air seems filled with Christmas cheer. I love the festive nature of the holidays and the excitement of picking and exchanging gifts.
Which Bay area spots do you take your out-of-town guests to really show off our city?
Our beaches! We have some of the best beaches in this world.
What are your favorite kinds of gifts to give and receive?
I love sentimental gifts! Framing a great picture that is meaningful is always a great gift. Thoughtfulness is probably the greatest gift of all.
What advice would you pass on to younger generations?
Dream big and have the passion to transform those dreams into reality. Dreams focus your passion and energy, and if they come from the heart, they have the power to change you in the process.
What is your favorite hero of fiction?
Wonder Woman. She is beautiful, powerful, and can take care of business! Most of all she seems to be energized by confidence based on knowing who she is and how to use her natural given strengths.
If you had one wish this holiday season, what would it be?
I would wish for all to have health and happiness, because at the end of the day those are really the only two things that matter.
What is your motto or words you live by?
Live a life that makes you proud.
Magnolia Banana Pudding
Yields: 12-15 servings
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 cups ice cold water
1 3.4 oz package instant vanilla pudding mix (preferably Jell-O brand)
3 cups heavy cream
1 12-oz box Nabisco Nilla Wafers (recommended brand)
4 cups sliced ripe bananas (about 3 medium bananas)
1. On medium speed of a stand mixer or in a small bowl, beat together sweetened condensed milk and water until well combined, about 1 minute. Sprinkle pudding mix over the liquid and beat well until all the powder has dissolved, about 2 minutes. Cover and place in refrigerator until completely set, about 3-4 hours or overnight.
2. On medium speed of a stand mixer, whip cream until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in set pudding mixture until blended and no streaks remain (the mixture should be a pale yellow color).
3. In the bowl you wish to serve the pudding in, arrange 1/3 of the wafers on the bottom of the bowl, they may need to overlap to fit.
4. Then one third of the bananas as the next layer.
5. Then one third of the pudding mixture, repeat three times in total, until you fill the serving dish.
6. Save any bits of the wafers for garnish. Cover tightly and place back in refrigerator for 4 hours to chill. Garnish with crumbs and bits of the wafers.