Chris Keim from After the Grind and Karie Ackerman from Blackfalds FCSS organized the annual Community Warmth Fall Fundraiser in support of over 150 kids in the community in need of winter clothes. Todd Colin Vaughan/Lacombe Express

Blackfalds comes out to Community Warmth Fall Fundraiser

Over 150 kids in need of warm winter clothes

The community of Blackfalds came together for the annual Community Warmth Fall Fundraiser to ensure that children in the community are kept warm over the winter months.

Currently, Blackfalds has a list of at least 150 kids that are in need of winter coats, pants boots and other items and Karie Ackerman from Blackfalds FCSS said the need often not realized.

“The need likely comes from the amount of layoffs related to the economy that we are still dealing with,” she said. “A lot of our single parents are finding it a struggle to pay for rent, food and everything else.

“When winter comes, it is an extra expense and if they have more than one child — which many of them d0 — it is a lot of extra expense to clothe all the kids.”

The event — which features live music, a catered meal, craft beer tastings, a cake auction and other fun events — has grown every year and this year Chris Keim, Director of After the Grind in Blackfalds and organizer said they are hoping to raise $5,000.

“We are trying to create an atmosphere that helps all those kids in need. If we can hit that $5,000 mark that would be awesome — $7,500 would be great,” he said.

Keim said one of the more popular attractions is the desserts auction, with 12 different desserts being donated by the community.

“One of the fun things is that they bid on the cakes, they have a piece and they put it back into the auction. A cake last year brought in $500, then brought in another $300 because another table buys it,” he said.

The money raised all goes to support the $10,000 to keep the warmth program going.

“The program itself costs about $10,000 to operate, so to keep sustaining it — we need $10,000,” Ackerman said. “Without reaching that, we are only supplying jackets — but if we can do more, we are going to do more.”

This year, the event welcomed 120 people — up from 80 last year and 60 in the first year.

“This is most numbers we have had this year and it is really exciting for us because every year we are growing a little more and these are the numbers we would like to see,” Ackerman said. “It is also a lot about awareness. A lot of people didn’t know there is that many kids in the community that need winter clothes.

“When we come together tonight it is all about building community and we find it spectacular that there is all these people that care about kids.”

All the funds raised goes towards purchasing brand new winter wear, which is also important according to Ackerman.

“By providing brand new winter clothes for these kids, we are trying to promote self esteem, so they are are not getting second-hand clothing — we are getting brand new clothes for them,” she said.

She added those wishing to support the program can make donations to Blackfalds FCSS.

“Financially is what we do need right now. If people can even donate $5, it all goes toward the program. That helps,” she said.

Ackerman and Keim both thanked the community for their ongoing support for this project.

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