Particpants in the Ugly Sweater Day Dash at Olympic Village in Vancouver last year. Ugly Sweater Day has been proclaimed in Victoria on Dec. 19.

Ugly Christmas sweater parties fund children’s wishes

Now That's Ugly Society hopes to raise $100,000 this year for the Children's Wish Foundation of Canada.

Ugly Christmas sweaters have become a phenomenon, decked out with reindeers, bells and Santa beards.

The sweaters are mainly used for a laugh during the holidays, but this year the ugly Christmas sweaters have a greater purpose.

Now That’s Ugly Society and The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada have partnered to bring wishes to deserving children simply by donning a festive sweater.

For children suffering life-threatening illnesses, the granting of just one wish can brighten their whole world during a less than joyful time of their lives.

Jordan Birch saw this first-hand when his friend died of cancer two years ago, just after being sent to Disneyland on an impromptu wish.

“We ended up wanting to grant wishes on a grander scale,” said Birch, who had founded Now That’s Ugly Society 11 years prior to that. For those 11 years, Now That’s Ugly held a Christmas sweater party at the Commodore in Vancouver to raise money for various charities. After the passing of his friend, Birch decided to focus solely on the Children’s Wish Foundation.

This year, Now That’s Ugly is expanding beyond the Lower Mainland.

“We’re going to the Island, we’re going all the way up to the Sea-to-Sky [Highway] and we’re going as far as Ontario,” said Birch.

Anyone can order a captain’s kit from Now That’s Ugly Society to host their own ugly Christmas sweater party.

The kits cost $200 and come with a toque, 40 buttons and a captain’s guide.

“Typically what people do is sell the buttons for $5,” said Birch. “We’re seeing a lot of captains taking it a step further, and they’re collecting more donations or setting themselves up on online fundraising.”

In B.C. and the Yukon, Now That’s Ugly donated just over $20,000 to Children’s Wish in 2013. This year, Birch’s goal is to raise $100,000.

“The average cost of a wish is $10,000,” said Jennifer Petersen, provincial director of the B.C. and Yukon chapter of the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. She added about 75 wishes get granted every year in B.C. and the Yukon.

“About 65 per cent of our wishes [involve] travel. Of that, definitely the most popular is Disney,” said Petersen.

All wishes are entirely funded by donors, said Petersen.

“We grant the most wishes in Canada, more than any other wish granting organization. No eligible child is denied a wish.”

Ugly Christmas Sweater Day is officially proclaimed as Dec. 19. Victoria city councillors will be dressed in their own ugly sweaters at the Dec. 18 council meeting.

To order an ugly Christmas sweater party kit, go online to nowthatsugly.com or call 1-800-267-WISH (9474). To donate directly to the Children’s Wish Foundation, go online to childrenswish.ca.

 

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