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Charitable events in Alberta go virtual during COVID-19 pandemic

Charitable events in Alberta move to virtual during COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH ABOVE: Many Edmonton festivals have been cancelled because of COVID-19, but not all events are ready to throw in the towel just yet. Community Reporter Morgan Black tells you how some are going virtual.

Charitable organizations in Alberta are exploring at-home options for upcoming summer events.

Junior Achievement Northern Alberta organizers are busy putting the finishing touches on their first virtual gala, in response to mass gathering restrictions from the province due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“People need something to do right now. They need some joy and a little bit of fun. What else are you going to do on a Friday night right now?” said president and CEO Jennifer Martin.

“Usually, we would have 1,000 people in the Edmonton Convention Centre to celebrate our 2020 Alberta Business Hall of Fame inductees and our innovators of the year.”

READ MORE: Coronavirus forces Edmonton-area festivals to cancel 2020 events

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This year, organizers are bringing the entertainment to your living room—complete with charcuterie delivered to your door.

“You’re welcome to put on a ballgown or a tux for fun. There’s a chance you’ll be seen by the other guests because it’s a Zoom call,” said Martin.

The charity’s work focuses on teaching kids financial literacy, how to manage money and work readiness. It also puts an emphasis on entrepreneurship.

“We walk the talk at Junior Achievement. So, we’re being entrepreneurial and innovative [with the gala] and we hope it inspires our youth and business community.”

The gala will help fund a move to online programming as the organization transitions from classroom initiatives.

“We want to be helpful to young Albertans, their parents and teachers right now. We don’t need a whole lot of money, but we’re looking to have some support,” said Martin. “These kids are our future, we want to equip them with the skills to move on from this and have a bright future and also help rebuild Alberta’s economy.”

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The virtual event came together quickly. Martin explained planning started just a week and a half ago. Now, the event has caught the attention of many groups, including Zoom itself.

“Zoom is thrilled we’re doing this. [The team] is helping and going to be watching closely. We’ve had calls from across the country, interested to know what we’re doing,” said Martin. “I’m hearing from the Edmonton Chamber of Commerce and the premier’s office [Kenney is speaking at the event]. Everyone is really excited. This is probably the way of the future for a good while.”

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The Walk to End ALS will be virtual this year too, as organizers strive to engage participants from afar.

“The ALS community is all about coming together. This is tough. It is challenging,” said ALS Society of Alberta’s Karen Caughey. “Planning a virtual event is all new to us. However, I think we’re finding ways to move forward and engage our families with each other as much as possible.”

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Caughey said participants can count their steps or measure how far they walk, then share the results online on ALS Awareness Day (June 21).

“But, it’s never been about how far you go or how many steps you take. It’s always about being together,” explained Caughey.

“It’s about hope, care and community.”

Caughey said fundraising will be mostly online, but people are still welcome to mail in donations. She told Global News fundraising could be more of a challenge this year.

“I think we’re concerned…but we are planning ahead. It’s a tough time for everyone, everyone in the world,” said Caughey. “I think we just need to be there for each other.”