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Children's festival bangs the drum for volunteers

By: Anna Borowiecki

  |  Posted: Saturday, May 03, 2014 06:00 am

VOLUNTEER GURU – Elizabeth Wilkie is the new volunteer manager for International Children's Festival, which runs later this month.
VOLUNTEER GURU – Elizabeth Wilkie is the new volunteer manager for International Children's Festival, which runs later this month.
CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette

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While it’s true that performing artists bring energy and excitement to the Northern Alberta International Children’s Festival, it is dedicated volunteers that provide the lifeblood.

Organizers count on volunteers to keep the festival running smoothly and they are hoping St. Albert residents will step up to the plate at two upcoming volunteer orientation sessions.

They will take place on Wednesday, May 7 at the Arden Theatre and on Monday, May 12 at Cornerstone Hall, 6 Taché St. Both sessions start at 7 p.m.

Festival volunteer manager Elizabeth Wilkie said that volunteers start signing up in March. However, organizers need close to 830 volunteers, a slight rise from last year. Volunteer positions range from ushers, face painters and hospitality to security, site activity assistants and possibly drivers.

“Last year we had 800. We need more this year because we have more activities and we’ve added more security,” said Wilkie.

Traditionally one orientation session was held at the Arden Theatre where a hospitality area for artists and volunteers was created during the festival.

“This year we’ve decided to move hospitality to Cornerstone Hall. It’s more central for all the volunteers. It will be central to park operations and St. Albert Place events. It will become our meeting hall.”

The orientation format has also changed. Instead of receiving a 30-minute presentation followed by a sign-up session, prospective volunteers will be invited to browse eight information stations.

“It gives people an opportunity to ask questions. We’ll have a person that co-ordinates every group at the station to answer any questions.”

Anyone 12 years and older can apply for a position.

“We ask that everyone that volunteers contribute a minimum of three shifts. A shift usually ranges from two to four hours,” Wilkie explained. “If a person can only do one or two shifts, we will accept them, but our priority is that they do multiple periods.”

She added that, “The more time volunteers spend, the more they have ownership of what’s happening as well as having the opportunity to meet artists and other volunteers.”

Volunteers are also required to undergo a criminal record check, a policy that was instituted for the 2012 festival. A station specifically for the checks will be set up at orientation sessions.

In return for their dedication, volunteers will receive a festival T-shirt, pizza party, concert, water bottles, lanyards and ice cream.

“Volunteers who come take a lot of pride in what they do. They have fun. They have the opportunity to be outside. They have the opportunity to make a difference. This isn’t something they try once. It’s something people return to year after year.”

For more information contact the volunteer hotline at 780-459-1522 or email festvolunteer@stalbert.ca. Visit www.childfest.com to see a list of volunteer jobs and register.


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