Let all who are hungry come and eat...

MAZON in The Montreal Gazette

Celebrities create collection plates for MazonAnd community centre supporters show style

The Gazette December 12, 2011

Mazon Canada, a grassroots organization working to alleviate hunger, has raised more than $8 million for more than 170 food banks, community kitchens and school-meal programs across Canada since Montrealer Dodo Heppner established it 25 years ago. In Quebec, Mazon funds more than 75 food programs and feeds more than 100,000 people.

For this year’s fundraiser, Mazon Canada’s Montreal chapter added a new element: an auction of paper plates on which such notable people as the Dalai Lama, Deepak Chopra and Pinchas Zukerman had drawn or doodled.

It took organizers months to recruit the celebrities who designed the plates. “But when we started talking to people in the community, we found that they had connections we could use,” as Sara Heppner-Waldston told the Jewish Daily Forward. She and Jayne Schneider-Lisak co-chaired the event.
Heppner-Waldston, for instance, approached the Dalai Lama at a conference to ask him to participate – and he agreed immediately. “Can you believe it? Here was the Dalai Lama saying to me, ‘Thank you for doing such important work for hungry people,'” she recounted.

Those who agreed to participate received packages containing several paper plates, art supplies, a disposable camera and a prepaid return envelope. They had a picture snapped of them holding the plate once they had decorated it – and then sent the photo and the plate to organizers. The plates were then matted and framed for the auction by Renwill, free of charge.

Among celebrities who signed on, listed here in alphabetical order according to their first names. Ben Mulroney, Bobby Flay, Chuck Hughes, the Dalai Lama, Daniel Boulud, Deepak Chopra, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Graham Kerr, Karen Kain, Margaret Atwood, Mario Batali, Natan Sharansky, Nikki Yanofsky, Patrick Huard, Paul Martin, Pinchas Zukerman, Rachelle Lefevre, Simon Chang, Stan Lee, Theodore Bikel, Tom Colicchio and Tori Spelling.

More than 500 people attended the Nov. 22 gala event, which was held at the Wave event space and which featured food, drink and more. The plate auction fetched $10,000 of the $180,000 raised by the event.
Broadcaster Aaron Rand, who was the auctioneer, volunteered his services. Many services and other elements of the event were also donated.

“The Wave set-up was amazing and beautiful,” wrote Schneider-Lisak. “Danielle Bitton outdid herself and helped us create a swinging, glamorous space. Brian Harris of Luxe rentals outfitted the space with his amazing furniture – cruisers, lit towers with the names of the caterers shining through, a “cigar” lounge area for one of the bars and another bar area that looked futuristic. Both of them donated almost everything we used – and then gave more.

“The caterers stepped up to the plate and brought their delicious fare. They served from lit bars flanking the room. Bartenders put on shows à la Cocktail with Tom Cruise – smoking hot drinks were a hit … At the entrance, there were art students painting a freestyle graffiti piece, and on the stage, En Masse artists (En Masse is a Montrealbased art initiative) created two amazing canvases that they allowed us to auction off.

“What’s the best part for me, now that the dust has settled and the money is going where it needs to go? I’m leaving this experience with feelings of such awe and respect for some very generous folks – people who gave of their time and their money without wanting anything back, not even recognition, people I would never have had the opportunity to meet were it not for Mazon.”

The idea of the event was to raise money – and also awareness about Mazon and its mandate to a younger generation: to that end, 100 students at Akiva School and ECS, a Westmount private school for girls, were involved – and designed and doodled on plates as well.

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