Melissa Debnar has come up with a crafty way to give back the community.
The 28-year-old North End resident (near Sinclair Park) is the organizer of the Giving it Back Craft Sale, a series of charity craft/trade shows which raise money for community centres throughout Winnipeg, helping clubs buy new equipment and jerseys for kids’ sports.
"It’s open to anyone who wants to buy a table and that fee, $25 a table, 100% gets donated back to the club," Debnar said.
"Then we charge a $2 door admission, which also gets turned right over to the club. The community clubs give us the hall for free, and we basically do the fundraising for them. The money gets used to either purchase new jerseys or new equipment for the kids, so baseball bats, soccer balls, what have you."
Debnar, who runs an Avon business, said she came up with the Giving it Back idea around Christmas and has already held two events: a Feb. 9 show at East End Arena & Community Club (517 Pandora Ave. E) and a March 2 show at Tyndall Park Community Centre (2255 King Edward St.), raising $1160 and $743 respectively.
Giving it Back shows are already scheduled for April 5 at Valley Gardens Community Centre (218 Antrim Rd.) and May 4 at Chalmers Community Centre (480 Chalmers Ave.). Debnar said there will also be an event in June, with plans to pick Giving it Back up again in September.
Debnar, who grew up in Elmwood, played community baseball for 16 years at Chalmers. She said her teams always had "garbage equipment," and that not much has changed.
"I went out last summer and watched my godson play tee ball, and his jersey, it was probably something his mother and I wore when we played baseball," Debnar said.
"We were joking around with the coach about it and he said ‘There’s no money. We don’t get funding. For all the teams, we get a couple hundred dollars from the city, but that’s it. Until it’s full of holes and falls off, it gets reused.’"
Debar has three young children of her own, including a four-year-old daughter who will start playing organized sports this summer. She said she’s received lots of positive feedback for Giving it Back from parents.
"The clubs have been ecstatic, but I’ve also had parents phoning me, no idea who they are, just saying ‘Thanks,’" Debnar said.
Debnar said she wants to bring Giving it Back to community centres across the city, and that clubs, as well as those interested in a table, should contact her at 204-250-1758.
Go to Giving it Back’s Facebook group by searching "Giving it Back Craft Sale."