For the past seven years, Karen Crichton-Cadeau has been raising money for an organization close to her heart, Kingston Interval House.
Inspired by the She Creates event in 2015, Crichton-Cadeau has worked tirelessly every year to fundraise for the local women’s shelter.
“The 2015 event brought together so many local artisans to celebrate International Women’s Day and the energy was inspiring! I wanted to keep that rolling with a bi-yearly fundraiser,” she explained. “I am a survivor of domestic violence and, although it is a distant part of my past, I know it is something that can affect anyone at any time, regardless of age, income, education, or values. I am dedicated to supporting the work of this agency in the hopes that many lives can be changed through the work they do!”
Girls Night Out, her bi-annual event, had been held at St. Lawrence College before the pandemic forced Crichton-Cadeau to change her fundraising model.
“I had already begun the planning for the 5th annual spring event when the pandemic happened,” she shared. “I quickly had to come up with a new plan and, with the support of my participants, I was able to create gift baskets to raffle off. Many of the participants (who are all small local businesses and artisans) not only donated items to be raffled, but also donated their fees if they were able.”
Crichton-Cadeau was able to create two virtual raffle events in 2020, raising $6,550 over the year.
“This was less than I would typically raise for the year,” she said, “but I was so thankful that we, as a community, came up with that much in such a crazy time!”
Knowing that the women and children who needed these services may have been facing even more danger during lockdowns, Crichton-Cadeau formulated a new plan for 2021. For the 6th annual spring event, she came up with the idea to offer gift bags which would be delivered over the Mother’s Day weekend — when her in-person event would typically occur.
“I approached my participants, and called out to local businesses, makers, artisans, and services, and asked if they were willing to donate just 20 items to make these gift bags possible,” she said of her process. “I set a goal of 2,000 items and when we went into a full lockdown, I reached out to businesses each day until I hit my goal!”
Using social media and email, Crichton-Cadeau marketed her 100 gift bags to the local community. She sold out in less than a week, and said she was so “blown away” by the response that she had to make sure to provide personalized touches to each bag.
“It was a ton of work, but it was so amazing to see how well-received they were and how thankful the women were to get them and give them,” she stated. “It felt great seeing people, even through masks and doors!”
In November 2021, she was able to host a modified in-person event, which, she said, was “super successful.”
“Even with all the restrictions and changes, it was one of the best in-person events this event has had, to be honest,” she expressed. “Despite that there were many restrictions in place, and several regular features of the event weren’t allowed, like food at the event for attendees to consume while they shopped, or hands-on services like massages, hairstyling and makeovers, the total raised in 2021 with those two successful events was almost $11,000 for the year.”
This year, she is excited to return to her full feature in-person format. On Friday, May 6, 2022, the 7th annual Girls Night Out spring fundraiser will take place at St. Lawrence College from 6 to 9 p.m. Crichton-Cadeau said that the event is “an experience!”
“It’s an opportunity to shop, mingle, meet new and local businesses, enjoy food, possibly a drink from the bar, and support a great cause,” she explained. “I’m hoping that, by the fall, some of the services like free massages can return comfortably!”
Tickets for the event are $10 and will go on sale Sunday, Apr. 17, 2022. They will be available to purchase until May 4, and limited spots will be available at the door on the day of the event. Crichton-Cadeau offers swag bags to the first 200 attendees, which will have samples, treats, discounts, and info from local businesses and some participants.
Gift bags will also be available for purchase, and Crichton-Cadeau hopes to continue to offer those as part of her spring fundraiser going forward. The bags will be for sale starting at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Apr. 24, 2022, through Monday, May 2, 2022, at 8 p.m. (or until sold out) for $45 each or 2/$80.
Crichton-Cadeau has a fundraising goal in mind for 2022: she would love to raise $12,000 this year.
“It’s hard to grow the event and keep the details of it the same because it usually generates the same amount each round,” she stated. “By adding the gift bags, though, I am hopeful I’ll reach my goal for the year.”
To purchase either tickets or gift bags, contact Crichton-Cadeau at [email protected].
“Our community needs to come together again for causes and some fun! Small businesses and artisans need these opportunities to sell their creations and network,” she expressed. “They deserve the opportunities that local events and markets offer them.”