Despite a funding shortfall, the Ma Mawi-Wi-Chi-Itata Centre says they went ahead with their first-ever 24-hour New Year‘s Eve party for local kids.
Program co-ordinator Crystal Leach said the centre is trying to raise $20,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to pay for staffing and activities for their annual party, and she‘s hopeful people will come through.
“There‘s so many awesome donors out there and so many private donors that wanted to be a part of it and didn‘t know how. So that was a very good way to have that door open for other people to donate to that cause.
“We‘re still working towards our goal. And we still have a lot of people coming forward with donations as we speak.”
As of publication, about $3,500 had been raised to help pay the 80 youth staff who are working at the centre, which is running their party until 10 a.m. Monday.
“Usually we‘re rolling around 20 hours, this is definitely taken up another level and went the whole 24 hours this year,” said Leach.
“There was definitely a need. As a time of year where it could be negative to young people, it‘s a preventative measure to keep our young people safe.”
The party also gives parents a break, she added.
“The children get to have a good time and come home and have really good things to say about their night. Sometimes, New Year‘s Eve can be negative for children and youth.”
The party included food, activities, board games, crafts, face painting and general running around at the centre‘s play structure, said Leach.
Binesi Maiingan is a former participant who decided to help out this year after turning 18, he said.
“When I was a kid I used to come here every year. Now I‘m an adult, so I don‘t really think I can play on the jungle gym anymore. So I‘m just here to help and make the kids have as much fun as they can when they play into the New Year.
“There‘s not a lot of opportunities in the North End for kids to have places like this, just to do fun stuff for themselves for the New Year.”
Stepsisters Norissa Mae Bittern, 10, and Bianca Rayland Boubar, 9 said they liked coming to the party because there was lots to do.
“There‘s just more people and it‘s a little bit loud. … at my house there‘s not much people and it‘s a little bit quiet,” said Norissa.
“This is my first time coming here. It‘s really nice in here, and I can make new friends,” said Bianca. “The play-structure, hanging around with my sisters … there‘s really nice kids here and because it‘s a really nice place for kids to be in.”