St. Clair ShoresAugust 20, 2012
Cruise beneficiaries look forward to annual fundraiser
By Kristyne E. Demske
C & G Staff Writer
As evidenced by its logo each year, the Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise is about more than just cars. It’s also about the charities that benefit from the Shorewood Kiwanis’ annual event.
“It’s our whole focus — we’re trying to raise money for the kids,” said Tom Ulrich, secretary of Shorewood Kiwanis, which organizes the Harper Charity Cruise each year.
Three charities will get the majority of the proceeds this year: CARE of Southeast Michigan, Tree of Hope and Wigs 4 Kids. Ulrich said other community groups that help sell T-shirts to support charity at the cruise will also benefit: local Lions clubs, three other Kiwanis clubs, the Macomb Chamber Music Society and the St. Clair Shores Cultural Commission.
“It’s proportional — the three biggest ones get the most,” Ulrich said.
CARE, in Fraser, assists individuals and families dealing with substance abuse issues and mental health concerns. St. Clair Shores-based Tree of Hope helps support those with postpartum depression and also supports postpartum research and education. Wigs 4 Kids, also based in St. Clair Shores, reaches out to children and young adults with hair loss and provides custom cut and styled wigs to them at no cost.
Ulrich said all of the organizations “jump at the chance to help us.”
T-shirts sold along the cruise route are $10 each and are supported by sponsorships, so as much as possible is returned to charity. They’ll be sold at many locations along the cruise route, on Harper Avenue from Old Eight Mile Road to Bayside Street, which is north of Martin Road, and Ulrich said volunteers will also be soliciting donations the day of the cruise.
“The Harper Cruise, in one aspect, it’s a way for our agency to generate money,” said Meghan Kindsvater, fund development manager for CARE. “It also acts as a pretty large promotional tool.
“It’s just another way to get our name out into the community and talk about the services we provide, as well.”
CARE offers parenting education classes and also hosts Project Focus Camp for children ages 6-15 years old that are coping with a loved one’s addiction, a parent who is incarcerated or died as a result of an overdose.
Kindsvater said the money from the cruise helps the organization, as well, because it doesn’t come with strings attached like most government funding. And it’s a fun time, she said.
“All the volunteers, they’re like, ‘When is the cruise coming?’” she said. “It’s a good time; they really enjoy it.”
Cruise organizers have to pay about $12,500 for police patrols the day of the cruise and work hard to make much more than that for charity — usually around $75,000, but at times upwards of $100,000 or more.
“Last year was phenomenal,” Ulrich said. “We sold out of everything before 6 o’clock.”
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