Charities win with Harper Cruise

By: Kristyne E. Demske | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published August 9, 2021


ST. CLAIR SHORES — While the Shorewood Kiwanis Harper Charity Cruise is a place to check out classic cars, hot rods, specialty vehicles and more, the reason for all the fun is to be a vehicle for helping others.

Scheduled for 5-9 p.m. Aug. 25, the annual event is a 100% charity cruise, with all donations and proceeds from the sale of T-shirts going to benefit Shorewood Kiwanis’ programs to help children in the community, and to support charity partners that step up to help collect donations and sell T-shirts.

This year, three new charities are partnering with the Shorewood Kiwanis: Kids on the Go, Ribbons of Hope and Turning Point Macomb.

“We wanted to participate because it’s important for us to be out in the community, supporting community partners and educating folks that our services exist,” said Sara Dobbyn, chief engagement and education officer for Turning Point.

Turning Point provides services, shelter and programs for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault in Macomb County.

Dobbyn said they were happy to help when asked by Shorewood Kiwanis to participate. The organization has a remote office in St. Clair Shores that provides supportive services, as well as legal advocacy.

“It’s great to be out in the community ... to be able to raise awareness not just for folks that reside in St. Clair Shores, but surrounding communities, as well,” she said. “This is our first year. I’m really excited to see what it looks like and how the partnership can continue to build and grow.”

Turning Point will have a table in front of Kapone’s Sports Tavern, 24301 Harper Ave., where volunteers will collect donations and sell T-shirts. As a charity partner, Turning Point and the other charities get to keep a portion of the sales of the T-shirts in return for their help the day of the cruise.

“It sounds like a really wonderful event, so I’m really excited that we’re able to participate,” Dobbyn said.

Ribbons of Hope, located in the Nonprofit Center at Pare in St. Clair Shores, is focused on designing and providing comfort services and products to people who are living with cancer, Alzheimer’s disease or autism.

The organization sells T-shirts and other apparel to support the nonprofit and provides support through projects like a Box of Hope, which contains a journal, a heart-shaped pillow designed to protect an incision or port when putting on a seatbelt, two drain pouches for women who have undergone mastectomies, a candle and a letter of encouragement. Jennie Spring, who co-founded the nonprofit with Maryjane Gaspar, said they began the organization because her sister is a two-time breast cancer survivor.

She and Gaspar are also members of Shorewood Kiwanis and have volunteered during the cruise as part of that organization. She feels fortunate the club asked Ribbons of Hope to be a charity partner this year. Their table will be located outside of Gaudino’s, 27919 Harper Ave.

“We’re going to have a couple people bring cars. My brother-in-law will have his convertible. We’re going to, hopefully, draw the crowd down there,” Spring said.

She said they’re happy to help support Shorewood Kiwanis, as they appreciate everything the organization does for local children.

“It’s going to be good this year because people didn’t have it last year,” she said. “Hopefully, this will be just as successful and raise a lot of money for the Kiwanis and for us, too. We work on helping the Kiwanis, and then they help us back.”

This is the first year Kids on the Go is participating in the Harper Charity Cruise, as well. Founder and executive director Kristy Schena said they have been supported by charitable organizations, including various Kiwanis clubs, since their founding in 1999.

Kids on the Go provides activities and support services for children with special needs to supplement and enrich what they receive from schools. While the organization now supports children ages 3-18 year ’round, it was originally founded to bridge the summer gap for children who might not receive any therapeutic services when school is not in session. The organization provides over 50 different programs, including weekly summer camps, sports and other enrichment classes, along with job training for older participants.

Schena said the organization’s location in the Nonprofit Center at Pare with Shorewood Kiwanis led to the collaboration.

“The community is very embracing of what we provide here, so we’re very grateful for the opportunity from Shorewood Kiwanis to be a part of the cruise,” she said.

Kids on the Go will be selling T-shirts in front of Whistle Stop Hobby and Toy, 21714 Harper Ave.

“Kids on the Go, we are based on all donations,” Schena said. “Thank you for the support from the community.”