The Refuge Community Centre, one of several nonprofit groups housed in the Blythe Family Support Center, will again make Christmas possible for the Blythe community which is considered one of the lowest income neighborhoods across Tennessee.
As a principal fundraising activity whose proceeds will support the Christmas program, the Refuge Community Centre Autumn Fest will be held Saturday, Nov. 5, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Family Support Center (old Blythe Elementary School) located at 1075 Blythe Avenue.
Kelli Kyle, director of Community Involvement for The Refuge Centre, said the family-friendly Autumn Fest — the first to be offered by the organization — will include live music, door prizes, playground and blowup toys, face painting and other activities. Admission is free.
“Proceeds from the Autumn Fest will go to the Refuge Community Centre to help with our Refuge Community Christmas event for families here in Cleveland,” Kyle said. “All proceeds go right back into the community. This is an excellent opportunity [for sponsors and participants] to support their community while also publicizing their business.”
The Autumn Fest will serve a dual purpose. One, it will raise critical funds to support the Refuge Community Christmas that was considered a major success last year in its debut. Two, the Autumn Fest will help to raise awareness about the organization while bringing together all sides of the community — especially by alerting others to the needs of the East Cleveland neighborhoods, Kyle explained.
Sponsorship deadline to support the Autumn Fest is Oct. 28. Organizations, businesses, companies and other nonprofit groups are invited to join the Autumn Fest through any of four sponsorship levels, Kyle said. These include Platinum, $100; Gold, $75; Silver, $50; and Bronze, $25.
Kyle pointed out some groups are choosing to donate in-kind gifts that are being used as door prizes. Some of those already received include a basket of goodies from Mary’s Linens and Home Goods, Dollywood tickets, Tennessee Aquarium tickets, Tennessee Railroad tickets and two baskets of Christmas decorations.
Two food vendors committing to the event so far are Dixon’s Dawgs and Casa Nachos.
“We have a variety of booths, some additional nonprofit organizations and also independent business people who sell jewelry, Mary Kay, flameless candles, a wood carver and others,” she noted.
Providing live entertainment will be the Late Model Luxury Band.
The event will include a grand-prize giveaway — a 32-inch flat screen TV. Donations of $1 per ticket, with a maximum of 10 per donor, will qualify participants for the drawing.
Names of sponsors will be displayed and announced at the Autumn Fest, as well as on the Refuge Centre’s Facebook page.
The Autumn Fest also will be accepting toy donations that will be used during the coming Refuge Community Christmas, Kyle explained.
Additional information about The Refuge Community Centre, The Refuge Community Christmas or The Refuge Community Centre Autumn Fest may be obtained through Facebook (Refuge Community Centre) or through the nonprofit’s website at www.therefugecommunity.org, or by calling 423-584-5211.
Christmas is Dec. 17
“Many events are scheduled in Cleveland and Bradley County that provide toys for children who otherwise may not receive much for Christmas,” Kyle said. “It is a privilege to live in a community that cares about its residents in such a significant way.”
The Refuge Centre’s inaugural Christmas program last year provided an outreach to most of the Blythe community, but the nonprofit approaches the Yuletide holiday from a different perspective.
“A Refuge Community Christmas is designed to help parents provide Christmas for their children,” Kyle explained. “We want to establish a sense of pride and joy for these parents by helping them provide gifts for their children. When you think of Christmas, most people think of giving and the joy that comes with it.”
She added, “As a parent, it brings great joy to give to your child. We want to make this possible for parents in Cleveland that are financially unable to do so. Because of this, The Refuge Community Centre is sponsoring a Christmas shopping day for parents who cannot afford to provide a Christmas for their children.”
The event is scheduled for Dec. 17 from 1 to 5 p.m. in the gym at the Blythe Family Support Center.
“We will also offer free gift-wrapping for those desiring wrapped gifts,” she noted. “The best news is that this will be provided as a gift from the entire community to these parents.”
In addition to the Autumn Fest proceeds, the Refuge Community Christmas will rely on financial or toy donations, and also donations of volunteer time by those wanting to help during the Dec. 17 event. Just as the case with Autumn Fest sponsors, those supporting the Christmas program will be recognized.
Those wishing to make material donations to Refuge Community Christmas are asked to consider new toys for boys and girls ages 1 to 16 (no toys that promote violence), wrapping paper, gift bags, gift boxes, tissue for gift bags, bows and tape.
As with the Autumn Fest, anyone wishing additional information about The Refuge Community Christmas may call 423-584-5211 or visit the nonprofit group’s website.
The Refuge Community Centre is located in the Blythe neighborhood at the Family Support Center (which is operated through the Family Resource Agency) because the organization works closely with East Cleveland families.