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Gala offers kids chance to give back

A new fundraising gala will offer families a day of fun and an opportunity to discuss the importance of giving back to the community.
Dressing up
The Pirate and Princess Gala, Feb. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Town and Country Centre, will allow children to dress to impress while giving back to local causes.

A new fundraising gala will offer families a day of fun and an opportunity to discuss the importance of giving back to the community. According to Dave Maffitt, chair of Volunteer Airdrie’s board of directors, the inaugural Pirate and Princess Gala – set for Feb. 10 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Town and Country Centre – is Airdrie’s first gala for the city’s youngest residents. Maffitt said it’s common for adults to attend these kinds of galas to support various community organizations, but the kids are usually left out of the fun. The Pirate and Princess Gala will allow children to experience a gala and see how their parent’s generosity helps others. “Kids will appreciate now what their parents are often doing, going out to these parties or galas without them and having babysitters take care of them,” Maffitt said. “They’ll maybe get a firsthand appreciation of what a gala’s like and what it’s for.” The idea for the event originated from a conversation between local mental health advocate Michael Loughman and Ruthanna Friesen, owner of The Wizard’s Wardrobe. After Loughman borrowed a costume for the Unmask Mental Health event he organized in October 2018, Friesen offered to donate costumes for a future fundraiser, and mentioned she had a number of princess costumes in stock. “We were sitting down and we were talking, and she’s like, ‘If you ever need any other costumes for any other fundraiser, I’ll totally donate them free of charge,’” he said. The idea snowballed from there, Loughman said, with the end result being a gala geared towards kids. Loughman said the gala will be a great way for children to learn from their parents example of giving back to the community, and Maffitt – a member of the gala’s organizing committee – said the event is an excellent opportunity for parents to instill the importance of fundraising. The event is cohosted by Volunteer Airdrie and Soap for Hope YYC, and both organizations will benefit from the proceeds. “Ideally, we want to have our kids appreciate how important it is to give back to the community,” Maffitt said. “The earlier you can do that in their development, I think the better the chances that that will become part of their lives going forward.” The gala will be an important fundraiser for Volunteer Airdrie, Maffitt said, as the organization faces challenges after unexpected cuts to government grants. The funds will enable Volunteer Airdrie to offer new youth-oriented initiatives. According to Michelle Edgar, program co-ordinator for Soap for Hope YYC, funds from the event will help her organization purchase hygiene items that aren’t usually collected through Soap for Hope’s hotel collection program. “It will make a big impact on how we’re able to provide necessary hygiene items to people in need,” she said. The event itself has capacity for 400 people, Maffitt said, and will feature music, dancing, face painting, food and refreshments. A magician will entertain those in attendance, and children can complete various activities for stamps in a passport, which can be used to win prizes. “[People] are welcome to dress as their favourite pirate or princess,” Maffitt said. “We’re hoping to have about 13 guest princesses in [donated] costumes that will mingle with our other guests and help in the fun and provide some photo opportunities.” Tickets cost $20, but children under three get in free – a total of 100 tickets have been set aside as free admission for those children. “We’d really appreciate people with larger families helping us by limiting the ratio of free tickets to paid admission to three to one,” Maffitt said. “If you’ve got three kids under the age of three that you’re bringing, we’d like one adult paid admission with that.” Tickets available at

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