Fun in store at the gro­cery ball

Auckland City Harbour News - - News - By Louise Sang­ster

For one night all the ma­jor food in­dus­try com­peti­tors come to­gether and sup­port a char­ity in need at the an­nual Gro­cery Char­ity Ball.

StarJam has been se­lected this year from 65 char­i­ties to re­ceive the pro­ceeds from the evening.

“We are im­mensely hon­oured to be se­lected, es­pe­cially be­cause we know how tough the com­pe­ti­tion was,” says StarJam founder and chief ex­ec­u­tive Julie Bartlett.

StarJam or­gan­ises free per­for­mance work­shops and holds monthly gath­er­ings with celebri­ties to coach and men­tor young peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties.

Gro­cery Char­ity Ball chair­man Don Gra­ham says it is “ex­tremely dif­fi­cult and of­ten quite emo­tional” choos­ing a char­ity each year.

“We look at a lot of fac­tors but 50 per­cent of the de­ci­sion is made on how much the char­ity would ben­e­fit from the money and ex­po­sure.”

He says there are many de­serv­ing char­i­ties but they try to steer away from well­known or­gan­i­sa­tions and fo­cus on the ones that are of­ten un­known and need a help­ing hand.

Mr Gra­ham says they hope to raise about $700,000 through ticket sales, auc­tions and do­na­tions dur­ing the evening.

Some of the ma­jor prizes up for auc­tion are a driv­ing ses­sion with Greg Mur­phy, a gui­tar signed by Neil Finn, an around-the-world trip fly­ing Air New Zealand and a golf game with the heads of Pro­gres­sive and Food­stuffs.

All the prizes have been do­nated and Mrs Bartlett says those who were in­vited to spon­sor have been ex­tremely gen­er­ous and it’s very en­cour­ag­ing for StarJam.

Gro­cery Char­ity Ball trus­tee Rob Davis says it’s not just the event they will benefi from.

“One of the great things about this event is the aware­ness that is cre­ated and the po­ten­tial for on­go­ing sup­port and do­na­tions.”

He says prof­its made from the event are un­tagged, which means a cheque is handed over to the char­ity un­con­di­tion­ally with no strings at­tached.

Mrs Bartlett says StarJam be­lieves every­one has a tal­ent and can do any­thing they set their mind to re­gard­less of a dis­abil­ity.

Twelve work­shops run ev­ery week and about 500 chil­dren are en­rolled in the pro­gramme with more on a wait­ing list.

Mrs Bartlett hopes the ball will raise enough money to run more pro­grammes and ex­pand to Welling­ton and Christchurch.

“We see such a dra­matic change in the kids. It’s a place where they can so­cialise, have fun and de­velop skills,” she says.

“They are do­ing such an in­spir­ing and fan­tas­tic job,” says Mr Davis.

“Th­ese kids are grow­ing up to be fab­u­lous cit­i­zens.”

A group of StarJam kids will be per­form­ing at the ball along with Te­muera Mor­ri­son, Do­minic Bow­den, Adeaze and Ray Woolf.

The ball is sup­ported by gro­cery giants Food­stuffs and Pro­gres­sive En­ter­prises as well as the New Zealand Food and Gro­cery Coun­cil.

The ball and din­ner will be held at SkyC­ity on Au­gust 28. Tick­ets on sale at www. gro­cerychar­i­ty­ball.org.

– Louise Sang­ster is an AUT jour­nal­ism stu­dent

Photo: AMELIA JA­COB­SEN

Star peo­ple: Gro­cery Char­ity Ball trustees Rob Davis, left, and Don Gra­ham with StarJam founder Julie Bartlett hope this year’s ball is a suc­cess.

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