Virtual gala raises big bucks for Tri-City charities

Stay at Home Gala a rousing success, organizers say, as 300 people vied for auction items, watched performers and gave hefty donations to keep front line organizations going during COVID-19

Front line organizations coping with community needs during the COVID-19 pandemic got a big boost Saturday, May 2 with a massive donation drive that raised nearly $140,000 in a single night.

The Stay at Home Gala Tri-Cities drew 300 people to a website where they could watch entertainment, chat with each other via text and bid on auction items. 

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Many donned gala wear, sipped wine and bought food from local restaurants to make it like one of the many social events that usually pepper the Tri-Cities’ social calendar but have been cancelled due to COVID-19.

“It was beautiful way to bring people together,” said Heidi Maddrell, vice-president of the Port Moody community foundation.

Key to the event’s success was a $90,000 donation from the Vancouver Foundation, which will be split three ways between the Port Moody, Port Coquitlam and Coquitlam community foundations to support organizations that are struggling.

“This is an amazing donation,,” said Darcel Moro, executive director of the Port Coquitlam Community Foundation, who said the money will be used to support important local agencies and organizations.

The remaining nearly $50,000 was raised from ticket sales, donations and bids on auction items.

For Lisa Landry, executive director Coquitlam Community Foundation, the Stay At Home Tri-Cities gala created an opportunity for people to show they cared. “I am overwhelmed at the the support,” she said.

It was as close as anyone will get to a real gala this year, but Maddrell said it was a fun night.

Not only did people dress up and pay $25 a ticket to watch the proceedings online, but they they had a great time socializing virtually on the Zoom platform.

“It’s so amazing all the community volunteers pulled this off in two weeks, it’s because of the community support. It was a very uplifting event from our perspective.”

Dozens of local organizations will benefit, including Share Family Community Services,  Crossroads Hospice and Tri-City Transitions, as well as groups serving youth, and seniors, the organizers said.

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