The popular fundraising campaign Chairs for Charity is back for another go.
“Chairs for Charity started in 2018 when I was looking for unique ways to engage our customers and the community at the store,” said Deanna Nowochin, who launched Chairs for Charity back in 2018. She owns Nowco Home Hardware with her husband Tyler.
“I was inspired by the downtown scarecrow competition that had happened the previous fall, and I knew we could create a really fun event to coincide with Lacombe Days,” she explained.
“The first three years, the chairs that were painted were kid-sized and so cute! Then last year, we switched to adult chairs, and it was a huge success.”
As to how the campaign works, Nowochin said she contacts local business owners to see if they’d like to participate by purchasing the chair (at the Nowochins’ cost – they don’t profit from this).
Staff at participating businesses will then paint their chairs and commit to selling raffle tickets to benefit the charity.
“The event has definitely evolved from the first year – the more we do things the more streamlined it’s become. Not only do we have our Facebook page, but we now have a website as well,” said Deanna.
In the campaign’s inaugural year, they raised $3,100 for the lunch program at James S. McCormick School.
“In 2019, we raised $6,205 that was split between Lacombe Minor Football and the lunch program at Terrace Ridge School.”
They had to postpone the campaign in 2020 due to the pandemic, but it was back in place in 2021 and they raised $5,340 for the local FCSS Tools for School program.
Last year saw further growth for Chairs for Charity, with $8,755 being raised for the Lacombe and District FCSS Fill-a-Fridge Program.
“This year the proceeds will be split between Fill-a-Fridge and Tools for School. We absolutely love our partnership with FCSS, and the group over there really helps bring this event to the next level,” said Deanna, adding that the generosity of the Lacombe community never ceases to amaze her.
“Each year on the day we gather for our group photo, I usually spend my morning stressing out that nobody is going to show up,” she said. “And then people start showing up with these amazing chairs and they just keep coming! The first year we did a group photo, I was almost in tears.
“I cannot believe that busy business owners dedicate the time and resources to make this happen,” she added. And that goes for her own team at Home Hardware, too.
“Last year our amazing employee, April, spent over 100 hours painting our chair,” said Deanna.
“This year, one of our participants told me their artist was over 40 hours into their chair. Each business is provided with the same box of wooden slats and somehow we end up with all of these unique pieces of art!
”Lacombe has always been so supportive of fundraising and community initiatives and we are so thankful for every single ticket that is purchased for the chairs,” she said, adding that 100 per cent of the proceeds go directly to the charity.
“We also love that with Chairs for Charity has been able to give over $23,000 to help fill bellies and backpacks.”
For Deanna, it’s certainly a personally fulfilling venture.
“Seeing all of the love and creativity come out in each chair and then presenting the cheque at the end makes it all worth it. I think the business community in town is a great example of ‘community over competition’, and running this event really highlights the fact that most entrepreneurs are truly giving and community-minded people at heart,” she said.
Tickets to support Chairs for Charity (five dollars each) can be purchased at any of the participating businesses from July 10-20.
Draws for the chairs will take place on Aug. 1.
“When you purchase your ticket, you indicate which chair you’d like to win on the ticket stub, and we draw for each chair individually.”
“A list of participating businesses, along with photos of their chairs, can be seen at www.chairsforcharitylacombe.com or on our Facebook page – Chairs for Charity Lacombe.”