Walk or run for a cause in Edmonton in September

There are dozens of fundraising walks and runs in Edmonton throughout the year, but perhaps the busiest month of all is September. Every weekend this month, Edmontonians will be walking or running to raise funds for a variety of worthy causes.

Powered by ShareEdmonton, here is a list of more than 20 fundraising walks taking place in September:

Edmonton Gorilla Run September 8 Victoria Park
Walk Now for Autism Speaks September 9 Rundle Park
Run FASD Edmonton September 9 Emily Murphy Park
Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope September 9 Sir Wilfrid Laurier Park
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes September 11 Churchill Square
Climb of Hope Run September 15 Victoria Park
Freedom Relay Edmonton September 15 Emily Murphy Park
Butterflies & Bowties: Thyroid Cancer Run/Walk September 16 Hermitage Park
Life Without Limits Challenge September 16 Rundle Park
ASSIST Walk & Run September 16 Louise McKinney Riverfront Park
A Walk/Run for Child Survival September 16 Victoria Park
Take Back the Night September 21 Alex Taylor School
Open Minds Walk & Run September 22 Rundle Park
Shinerama Fun Run September 22 TBA
Edmonton Heartbeat Run September 23 Louise McKinney Riverfront Park
Scotiabank AIDS Walk for Life September 23 Churchill Square
Ride for Diabetes Research September 28 Churchill Square
Light the Night Walk September 28 Victoria Park
Kenya Run for Water September 29 Emily Murphy Park
Walk for Children with Apraxia of Speech September 29 Rundle Park
Sight Night Edmonton September 29 Kinsmen
CIBC Run for the Cure September 30 Churchill Square

You can always see the latest charitable events at ShareEdmonton in the Causes category. You can download an iCal feed here.

I unfortunately won’t make it to Walk a Mile in Her Shoes this year, but it was lots of fun when I participated last year! It’s always entertaining to see the guys walking in high heels, so head down to support them on September 11.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes

I have participated in the AIDS Walk a few times, and I am always amazed at how many people take part. If all the events listed above have strong turnouts, there could be a significant amount of money raised this month!

AIDS Walk For Life 2009

Do you know of another fundraising walk or run taking place this month? Let me know!

Christmas Charity Auction Dinner at Ric’s Grill

When Graham Hicks asked if I wanted to be involved in the Edmonton Sun’s annual Christmas Charity Auction back in October, I was flattered. And to honest, a little worried. I would host one of the “media dinners” – local media personalities paired up with a restaurant. With well-known local celebs like Global TV’s Gord Steinke and Lynda Steele (who went for $2255), who would bid on me, I wondered? What if no one bid on me?! Still, I relished the opportunity to represent Edmonton’s social media community, not to mention partake in two of my favorite things: meeting new people, and food.

It turns out there were 16 bids on my media dinner, with the final bid going for $140. Not bad! The auction supports the Edmonton Christmas Bureau, Sign of Hope, Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the United Way. A total of $240,000 was raised last year, down from the $350,000 raised in 2008 but still quite good. Since 2003, the charity auction has raised an impressive $1.3 million!

Last Wednesday, Sharon and I were joined by winning bidder Terri Lynn and her friends Kelly, Sue, and Ginette, at Ric’s Grill downtown. The foursome had participated in the auction in years past, winning a very enjoyable dinner with CBC’s Ron Wilson and Peter Brown (with Gurvinder Bhatia at Bistecca). An evening with those guys is pretty hard to top, but I thought our dinner went really well!

After introductions (and thanks to Terri Lynn for bidding on me) our conversation shifted to food and local restaurants, given that all of us are such fans. Terri Lynn shared that she reads Sharon’s blog every morning, something that I think an increasing number of Edmontonians do! We talked a little about memorable blogging moments, given that the Alberta budget website thing had just happened, and of course about how Sharon and I got into blogging.

Dinner was great too – I especially enjoyed the almond goat cheese crostini starter. Sharon wrote more about the dinner here.

Thanks again to Terri Lynn, Kelly, Sue, and Ginette, as well as Ric’s Grill, for a great evening, and congratulations to Graham Hicks and the Edmonton Sun for another successful auction!

Tough times for Edmonton charities

Times are tough right now if you’re a charitable organization. Here in Edmonton, the outlook is pretty grim for a number of organizations:

Add up the above numbers, and Edmonton charities are short about $3 million. That’s a lot of money. The scary part is that I’m sure there are more than I haven’t been able to find yet.

The two bright spots I’ve seen are Santas Anonymous, which said it would meet the demand this year, and Stuff-A-Bus, which exceeded its goal.

While the news is terrible, it’s not that surprising. Last year donations across Canada dropped 5.3% from 2007 to $8.19 billion, the lowest figure since 2005. I’m sure we’ll see a similar or perhaps larger drop for overall giving in 2009. The fact is, philanthropy is a lagging indicator. This data is from the US but I think it applies to us too:

During the last 40 years, according to data provided by Giving USA, charitable giving fell in real terms (i.e., adjusted for inflation) in years in which the economy was in recession, or in years in which there was a significant stock market dislocation. Giving fell in 1980, 1987, and 1990. The last time the economy contracted was in 2001. That year, according to Giving USA, charitable giving fell 2.3 percent in real terms, after having boomed along with the stock markets and the economy at large in the late 1990s. But while the economy resumed its growth in late 2001, charitable giving slumped in real terms in both 2001 (down 1.4 percent) and 2003 (down 0.2 percent).

It’s a lagging indicator because charitable donations are seen as a luxury. You pay your bills first, then you make a donation. Not everyone sees it that way, of course, but on the whole, that’s the reality.

Hopefully that means local charities will have a better year in 2010.

There’s still time to help this holiday season! Here’s how:

Christmas Bureau of Edmonton 2009 Campaign Launch

Today the Christmas Bureau of Edmonton launched its 69th campaign, challenging everyone to help provide for 65,000 less fortunate Edmontonians this year. The goal is to raise $1.6 million in the six weeks prior to December 25th. Councillor Henderson was on hand this afternoon to proclaim December 2009 as Christmas Bureau Month in the City of Edmonton. He echoed the thoughts of many in the room when he said that the Christmas Bureau is embedded into what makes Edmonton great. It’s amazing that they’ve been helping less fortunate families since 1940! Honorary Campaign Chairpersons Kevin Lowe and the Oilers Ladies also gave some remarks. I had no idea that Kevin Lowe has been involved with the Christmas Bureau for 27 years!

To help launch the campaign, the media were invited to participate in a gingerbread house making competition! I was fortunate enough to participate, representing new media along with The Unknown Studio. Here’s the “Twitter” house I came up with:

Christmas Bureau Gingerbread Competition

I had lots of fun, and was amazed at some of the houses the others created. Check out most of them in my photoset here. Thanks to the Christmas Bureau for asking me to take part.

To learn more about the Christmas Bureau, check out their website. You can donate, volunteer, or sponsor a family. You can also follow them on Twitter!

Twestival Local 2009 – September 10th in Edmonton

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, we’re holding Twestival Local here in Edmonton next week (get your tickets here). After an online vote, it was decided that the local cause we’ll be supporting is the Youth Emergency Shelter Society. I’m very excited about this, and they are too! Here’s a brief into to YESS:

In 1978, a group of concerned individuals discovered a gap in our social services system. Essentially, there were no programs in place to assist homeless children between the ages of 16 and 18. In response to this lack of service, the group activated  the Youth Emergency Shelter Society (Y.E.S.S.) in September 1981, offering services in a reclaimed fire hall building on Whyte Avenue.

In 2004, based on extensive research into the challenges and issues faced by homeless youth in our community, Y.E.S.S. conducted a major  restructuring  of  all  programs. We  are  now  serving  youth  at risk more efficiently and effectively than ever!

And a little on why they need our help:

YESS relies on fundraising for more than 50% of our budget each year. We face the ongoing challenge of raising more money to provide services to Edmonton’s growing population of troubled teens. You are a critical part of our ability to continue to develop our programs.

For more, check out their Summer 2009 “Eye on Youth” newsletter in PDF.

Very soon, YESS is opening a new facility called the Armoury Youth Centre. They responded to the City’s RFP for the Connaught Armoury space just north of Whyte Avenue and were chosen as the organization whose proposed program would have the greatest positive impact on the community.

A couple weeks after Twestival, you can check out the new Armoury Youth Centre for yourself! Here are the details:

September 26 & 27

Pancake Breakfast from 8am to 10:30am
Tours from 9am to 4:30pm
Afternoon BBQ!

10310 85 Avenue
Edmonton, AB

You can download the grand opening invite in PDF here.

Twestival Local takes place on Thursday. Here are the details:

WHAT: Twestival Local 2009
WHEN: Thursday, September 10, 2009 at 6:00pm
WHERE: Original Joe’s Varsity Row, 8404 109 Street, Edmonton, AB (map)
WHY: To support the Youth Emergency Shelter Society

We’re asking for a minimum donation of $20, but feel free to donate more! You can get tickets online here. Please spread the word!

See you there!

Twestival Local 2009 in Edmonton

Back in February, the Edmonton Twitter community participated in the first ever Twestival – a tweetup for charity. We raised over $1000 for charity:water, and we had a great time doing so! As a great a cause as that was, I would have preferred to support something local. That’s why I am excited about Twestival Local:

Twestival was born out of the idea that if cities are able to collaborate on an international scale, but work from a local level, it would result in a spectacular impact. While Twestival Global put the spotlight around one cause, Twestival Local is encouraging cities around the world to host events in support of a local cause.

The goal is to give people a chance to feel they are contributing to a larger social initiative, but bring the cause a little closer to home.

So basically Twestival is back, and we’re supporting a local cause this time! Which one? We don’t know – we need your help to decide! You can vote online here.

We’re going to hold our Twestival on September 10, 2009. We haven’t yet decided on a venue, so please add your suggestions for that and anything else to the wiki. Watch @edmontontweetup and the Twestival Edmonton blog for updates.

Recap: Edmonton Twestival 2009

Wow, what a fantastic evening! Thanks to everyone who came out tonight, and to everyone who supported Twestival. I think it’s really cool that the Edmonton community was able to participate and help make a difference for those in the world who don’t have access to safe, clean drinking water.

Our hope was to have around 50 people attend this evening, and we came very close – the final tally was 45. Everyone donated $20, which means we raised at least $900 from ticket sales. I know at least another $100 was donated online via tipjoy, so that brings us to $1000 raised for charity: water. Well done everyone!

Photos by momentsindigital (site)

Thanks once again to everyone who donated the door prizes: @sassycakes, @transcendcoffee, @bruceclarke, @NAIT, @thechadj, @Out_Inc, @cmscritic, and @tonyratcliffe. Thanks also to @sharonyeo for doing a ton of work to make tonight happen!

I’ve posted a few photos and a video here, @bruceclarke posted some much better ones here, and @tonyratcliffe posted his photos here. If you know of any others, please let me know! If you’re feeling adventurous, you can read some of tonight’s chatter at Twitter Search.

I can’t wait to hear how Twestival went in other cities – there should be lots of exciting news over the next few days. Keep an eye on @twestival for updates.

Our next Twitter event here in Edmonton will be EdmontonTweetup4. See you there!

UPDATE: We raised at least $1000 but because of the online donations and other ways to help out, our total raised may end up being higher than that. I’ll update again when I know the official numbers.

Two days until Edmonton Twestival 2009

In less than 48 hours, Edmonton Twestival 2009 will be underway! I’m really looking forward to the event and I hope you are too.

One of the things we wanted to do with Twestival was showcase local organizations on Twitter. Fortunately, quite a few have stepped up to contribute door prizes! Thanks to:

Want a shot at winning one of these fantastic prizes? You must register online! If you’re not comfortable entering your credit card online, register for the free ticket and bring your donation to the event.

I also wanted to thank the Calgary Twestival crew for getting an Alberta Twestival logo created:

Very cool! Here are a couple of other things created for Twestival recently:

  • Donation Water Cloud – Donate and get your name on the cloud! The most generous donors will appear on the official Twestival t-shirt.
  • Official T-Shirt – You can order the shirt until Monday, February 16th. I love the design!
  • Twestival.fm – What’s a festival without music? Donate and tweet your favorite tunes.

I’ll be posting updates on both @mastermaq and @edmontontweetup as we get closer to show time. You can also check out the #twestival hashtag on Twitter Search.

Hope to see you on Thursday evening!

UPDATE: We made the front page of the Edmonton Journal today! You can read the article online here.

Twestival Edmonton – February 12th, 2009

I’m excited to announce the latest Twitter event taking place in Edmonton: Twestival 2009! More than 100 cities around the world are hosting Twestivals on February 12th to raise money and awareness for charity: water. When I heard about the idea, I knew that Edmonton had to participate. After all, we’re known for our support of community and charitable causes, and the Twitter community here is second-to-none! It’s going to be an evening of great fun for a great cause!

Here are the details:

WHO: You and your friends!
WHAT: Edmonton Twestival 2009
WHEN: Thursday, February 12th at 6:30pm
WHERE: Vintage Lounge, 10124 124th Street – map
WHY: To have some fun while supporting a great cause!
COST: We’re asking for a $20 donation which will go entirely to charity: water.

Click here to register for the event. If at all possible, please use the donate online option when you book your ticket as that’ll simplify things for us.

Here’s a bit more information on Twestival:

The Twestival is organized 100% by volunteers in cities around the world and 100% of the money raised from these events will go directly to support charity: water projects. Unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation cause 80% of all sickness and disease, and kill more people every year than all forms of violence, including war. By rallying together globally, under short timescales, for a single aim on the same day, the Twestival hopes to bring awareness to this global crisis.

Needless to say, I think it’s a cause worth supporting. The cost of funding a well project in a developing country starts at $4,000 USD. Together with our friends in Calgary, I think Alberta can definitely raise enough to fund an entire well!

Some cities have organized elaborate programs for their Twestival, which is cool. Here in Edmonton, we thought it would be better to keep things simple. Here’s what we’ve got planned:

  • Come anytime after 6:30pm to Vintage Lounge. If you’ve registered online, we’ll have a special nametag waiting for you. Meet people who are new to you, and reconnect with people you already know. Put faces and real names to Twitter usernames!
  • Also if you’ve registered online, you’ll have a shot at winning one of our door prizes! We wanted to highlight local organizations on Twitter, so have asked a few for donations. Our first supporter is SassyCakes! Let me know if you’d like to donate something.
  • Connect to the free wireless provided by Vintage Lounge and chat with Twestival-goers in other cities. We’ll have a screen setup thanking our supporters, and showing real-time Twestival chat from around the world!
  • Feel free to bring friends who are currently missing out on Twitter – we’ll get them registered on the spot!

Beyond that, let’s just have a good time and raise some money for charity: water!

If you’re interested in sponsoring the event, or donating a door prize, or otherwise helping out, please let me know. Stay tuned to the wiki and the @edmontontweetup account for news and updates.

Major thanks to Sharon (@sharonyeo) for helping me get this off the ground, and to everyone else who has provided input and support so far (@dibegin, @Roger, @amanda etc.)

See you there!

UPDATE: Here is charity: water’s official Twestival page.

Bid on an Oilers jersey signed by the entire team!

Post ImageTomorrow evening is the 2nd Annual RestorAction Charity Gala, presented by the Youth Restorative Action Project (YRAP) and the Elizabeth Fry Society of Edmonton (EFRY). In addition to comedy, live music, and dancing, the event features a silent auction. One of the big ticket items in the auction is an Edmonton Oilers jersey.

This isn’t just any Oilers jersey though – it is signed by the entire team! If that doesn’t make you drool hockey fans, nothing will.

Here’s the best part: you can make a bid even if you aren’t attending the gala tomorrow! To do so:

  1. Come up with your maximum bid amount.
  2. Email it to me at mastermaq@gmail.com no later than 3:45 PM tomorrow, October 13th, 2007.

Everyone attending the gala will have the final opportunity to bid, between 6:30 PM and 9:30 PM tomorrow. There are still a few tickets available ($70) if you’d like to attend.

Happy bidding!

UPDATE: The jersey ended up going for $675! Thanks everyone!

Read: RestorAction