We select six or seven events below to represent the events of 2011 in which our group was fully involved. A full representation — impossible here! — would additionally include a Grandmothers Gathering in Courtenay, craft tables set up at such events as a garden tour and community fairs, the presentation of a cheque by the Qualicum Beach Credit Union in generous support, get-togethers to crafts angels or hats (facinators!), and thousands of creative woman-hours behind the scenes.
Christmas Concert, December 17
For the second consecutive year, the Oceanside Grandmothers have received sponsorship support from Knox United Church and collaborated with the Oceanside Concert Band to present a musical celebration of the Christmas season. The Family Christmas Concert, held December 17, 2011, raised funds and gathered food items and toys.
More than 200 people were in attendance to enjoy seasonal favourites performed by featured soloist Maureen O’Hearn, members of the community Youth Choir (who stole the show!) and a special visit from Santa’s special elf – Major Rolf Guenther of the Salvation Army. Donations of non-perishable food items and toys benefitted the Salvation Army Food Bank and the SOS Caring for Children at Christmas Program. Proceeds from cash donations ($1,310) were divided equally to support the Salvation Army’s Christmas Campaign and the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers Campaign.
Christmas Extravaganza, November 25 and 26
It’s the season for celebration and the season for giving. Our grandmothers group has again been terrifically successful in raising funds to support grandmothers in Africa, giving further hope and opportunities to women of our own generation raising their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren. We have lots to celebrate as we made over $14,000.
The Extravaganza ran for Friday evening November 25 and Saturday November 26. Held at the Bayside Quality Inn in Parksville, it filled a huge room with baking and innumerable handicrafts, festooned decoratively over tables. After the first hour, though, the tables were not heaped nearly as high. Customers flocked in, filling their arms with special handcrafted gifts or treats for themselves, and forming a long line at the sales table. Everywhere people were smiling as they admired the crafts and chatted with the grandmothers in red aprons who busied around the room, helping.
In every way, this event gave a glow. Hundreds of invisible hours of creativity lay behind the crafts, and many more will unroll ahead as our happy customers, supportively shopping for our cause, enjoy the stockings and Santas, the bags and angels, the baking, the handcrafted ornaments, the children’s aprons or crayon pouches, the knitted and crocheted scarves and socks, the decorative centrepieces and wreaths, and all the other appealing products of our nimble granny fingers.
New members bring new ideas. Nita entered our g2g group with a brilliant idea and a generous offer: we could throw a garden party at her home, whose kitchen and gardens were perfect for such a summertime event. On July 8, the combined energies of dozens of grandmothers brought the idea to life and in the process raised roughly $3,700 for the Stephen Lewis Foundation in its support for grandmothers in Africa raising their AIDS-orphaned grandchildren.
Much of the energy was invisible, in the form of background preparation: organizing the event with its tea-set tables and fleet of productive grannies; creating a huge array of crafts, with a special inclusion this time of garden party hats; and in personal kitchens all around the town making mountains of sandwiches and delicious baked goodies.
And then — the energy erupted to the surface on a sparkling day of sunshine in the garden and a party that we all enjoyed. Gran volunteers took tickets at the gate and welcomed our guests. More gran volunteers cut sandwiches and baked goodies onto plates or made tea and coffee in the kitchen. More gran volunteers whisked from table to table to serve guests. More gran volunteers sold crafts and, in the case of the hats, modeled them as well. All gran volunteers cheered each other on. And, of course, gran volunteers cleaned up at the end of the day, restoring Nita’s home and garden to a its earlier order.
When the fun was over, the satisfaction remained of a truly successful event and a very effective fundraiser.
Our red aprons made us fit right in. With the red and white of Canadian flags all around us, we strode and waved our way through Parksville on July 1. Within the long procession of community businesses and organizations, we won plenty of waves and cheers from the families lining the streets. as we wave to the community around us, we know that we would go nowhere without them. The affection and support is mutual. And that’s what gives us our spot in the Parksville community Canada Day parade.
On March 8, 2011, International Women’s Day marked its centenary. Significantly, this day has become an occasion officially recognized by the United Nations, with gender equality being one of the 8 UN Millennium Development Goals. In July 2011, the United Nations launched UN Women, an entity for gender equality and empowerment of women.