From the chicken dance to dodge ball, check out these creative events for a good cause.
By Melanie Wong
Gone are the days of the bake sale or the corner lemonade stand.
Although no one is complaining about a homemade cupcake or a cold drink on a hot day, some groups in the area have put a twist on the traditional fundraiser and are holding some truly inventive events for a variety of causes.
Read on to find out about some innovative community fundraisers coming up this month, along with information on how to get involved. Who knew doing the chicken dance or pegging someone with a dodge ball could make such a difference?
Chicks 4 Kids
On Saturday, May 12, an estimated 100 kids will take to the dance floor and chicken dance for a cause.
The dance party is organized by The Vail Church to raise money for a Kenyan orphanage and a local organization, Mountain Valley Developmental Services, which serves developmentally disabled individuals in the area. The participants, mostly kids from the Vail Christian Academy, have been raising money from friends and family to sponsor them during the chicken-dance marathon.
The dance party itself takes place at 4 Eagle Ranch, and will include activities for kids and lunch. For a dedicated hour, the kids will shake it on the dance floor – chicken style – to build a greenhouse, chicken coop and classroom for an orphanage in Kitale, Kenya.
The chicken-dance marathon is one of many such events held around the country through the organization Chicks for Children, which provides monetary aid to reduce or eliminate hunger, disease, homelessness and illiteracy.
Church members have also been passing around plastic Easter eggs with information on the fundraiser. Supporters can put their donation in the egg and return it to The Vail Church, giving the community another way to support the cause besides sponsoring a dancer, says organizer Jeanna Turay.
The goal is to raise $30,000, and a group from the church’s missions team will go to Kenya later in the year to help build the facilities, she says.
“The orphanage feeds 300 kids a day, three times a day, five days a week,” Turay says. “Chicken coops will really help that – it feeds the kids and also allows them to sell the eggs and make some money. Hopefully with the greenhouse they can get some fresh vegetables as well.”
Of the fundraiser’s proceeds, 25 percent of the funds will stay in the local community, going to Mountain Valley Developmental Services. The nonprofit provides day services, activities and full-time care for disabled individuals. The Eagle County branch of the program has group homes dispersed throughout the valley and reaches more than 100 Eagle County residents, says Dana Peterson, the nonprofit’s director of philanthropy.
The nonprofit is largely funded through government support, but has seen drastic cuts in that funding over the last few years, Peterson says.
As Turay says, Mountain Valley Developmental Services’s work often goes unnoticed – its workers have been quietly serving the community, and the fundraiser is an opportunity for the community to take care of them in return.
She encouraged anyone, regardless or age or religious association, to participate in the dance marathon.
“There’s a huge need, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. You think, ‘There’s so many people starving that we can’t help,’” Turay says. “This is something easy we can do that helps a handful of kids in Africa or that can make a huge impact in this community. You donate your spare change, or come dance a little bit. It’s something simple and a cause that we can do something about.”
Dodge for a cause
A different but no less original fundraiser, the Project Escuela Dodge Ball Tournament on May 18, has kids, teens and adults hurling dodge balls at one another to raise money to build a school facility in a rural Honduran village.
The event is organized by teachers and students at Homestake Peak School in Eagle-Vail in partnership with the nonprofit Schools for Children of the World (SCW). Throughout the year, Homestake Peak School students from kindergarteners to eighth graders aim to raise $14,000. The money will go to building materials and construction of a school in the rural community of La Torre, Honduras.
According to SCW, 35 children from the La Torre community attend school in a ramshackle building, while others walk 30 minutes to another rural school and still others do not attend school at all. The idea is for Homestake Peak School students to take an annual service-learning trip to La Torre starting next year, where they’ll help at the school and learn about international cooperation, says teacher and organizer Kari Bangston.
“The students are really excited and passionate about making a difference,” she says. “We’ve started to learn a lot about the quality of life the kids have there, and they’ve seen pictures of the town. They’re excited to experience a different culture and place, especially one where it is never cold and never snows.”
The dodge ball tournament will be one of the school’s biggest fundraisers, with the goal of raising $4,000 for the effort.
The tournament will go from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the Homestake Peak School gymnasium. Adult teams will consist of eight to 10 members, and the entry fee per team is $150. There are teen and kid brackets as well, with entry for those categories at $50 per team.
Bangston says that a student committee has done much of the organizing and planning for the tournament – the entire project is truly a student-led initiative. And why a dodge ball tournament?
“That was the brainchild of middle-school kids,” Bangston says, laughing. “They’re really fired up about it.”