Potter Premier For St. Johns Home

November 1, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — Entering Harry Potter’s Chamber of Secrets may be every child’s dream, and later this month patrons will have the opportunity to make some area children’s lives a lot brighter.

Celebration Cinema, in conjunction with St. John’s Home, a protective residence for victims of childhood abuse and neglect, invite residents to reserve tickets for the premier of the children’s fantasy movie, “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” in an effort to raise money for the home.

The premier is at 11 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, and is to feature breakfast refreshments, a raffle and games.

The theater opens to the premier’s patrons at 9 a.m. Admission is $20 per reservation by calling 361-5227. In addition to donuts, juice and coffee, patrons will be offered free soft drinks and a refillable Harry Potter popcorn bucket.

According to St. John’s, a similar event raised $10,000 and the goal this year is $15,000.

The home, at 2355 Knapp NE, is a non-denominational shelter known nationally for innovative programs and a high record of success with troubled children. Dating back 113 years, St. John’s Home has the intent to give children a new start in an atmosphere of love, high expectations and healthy activities.

Currently 60 children reside at St. John’s and it reports that 90 percent of its residents grow up to lead healthy, productive lives.

Michelle Hoexum, director of development for St. John’s, says the shelter depends heavily on private contributions and direct assistance from area businesses.

Some of that assistance came early last month, she said, when Alticor paid for 40 of St. John’s young charges to attend a concert by the Grand Rapids Symphony. Then the next week they were able to attend a performance of the Grand Rapids Ballet, courtesy of National City Bank.

One of the home’s biggest fund-raising events of the year starts late this month and runs through New Year’s Eve.

The project, called “Change a Child’s Life,” runs through the 43 restaurants with Wendy’s of West Michigan — a service area embracing metro Grand Rapids, the shoreline communities from South Haven to Muskegon and inland towns from Paw Paw to Battle Creek.

The way it works is that customers “round up” the cost of a Wendy’s order and the restaurant then forwards that extra change to St. John’s.

Last year, the promotion — the biggest conducted on the home’s behalf — raised $88,000, and St. John’s hopes it will reach $100,000 this year.

Terry Sagner, president of Wendy’s of West Michigan, says his team is proud to sponsor the fundraiser, and that customers seem eager to participate. “Our customers have shown their willingness to support needy children,” he said, “and we greatly appreciate their business and their donations to this effort.”

Helping to promote the fund-raising project will be radio station WSNX and Pepsi-Cola.

Hoexum listed several other organizations and firms lending behind-the-scenes support to the project: Grand Rapids Civic Theater, Meijer Inc., Johnny Mac’s Sporting Goods, Panopoulos Salons, Grand Rapids Rampage Football, Griffins Hockey, the Hoops and the Symphony Orchestra.           

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