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Books & Nooks is honoured to be a sponsor for this year's Vogue Charity Fashion Show 🤩🧡. In these difficult times it is more important than ever to take a look at your communities and do what you can to help support initiatives for charity and the less fortunate. It could be as simple as donating a few non-perishable food items to your local food bank 🥫. The students at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario have been answering this call for many years. I had a chance to do a virtual sit down with Ciara Halloran, Co-President of VCFS, along with Lucia Beram & Joel Fiset, Co-Heads of Charity; to discuss this year's show and charity and some of the challenges they are facing with COVID-19.
Q: What is VCFS? How did VCFS get started & how long has the show been running?
Vogue Charity Fashion Show (VCFS) is Canada’s largest student-run fashion show. Entering its 24th year, VCFS has grown to become the largest student-run club on campus, and one of the most highly anticipated events within the Queen's University and Kingston communities.
With a cast of 170+ students each year, the show provides an opportunity for students to showcase their creative talents and for ambitious leaders to take action, while functioning as a symbol of social responsibility. By uniting the student body and the Kingston community, VCFS strives to give back to our community through creativity and philanthropy.
Q: How would you describe VCFS to someone who’ s never heard of it?
The “fashion show” is really a year-long commitment to a local charity to raise their profile, volunteer and fundraise for their needs and interests. These efforts culminate in a show consisting of student models, designers, musicians, and dancers all showcasing their creative talents to raise money for a different local charity each year.
Q: What is the theme for this year’s show?
The theme this year is called Convergence. Here is the vision statement created by our creative team to describe theme and it's importance:
There come times when we are thrust into periods of deep reflection. Reflection on our world, our lives, and our inner selves. What gives us direction in our lives? How can we make an impact on the world around us? The answers to these questions are fundamentally shaped by the connections we make with others, from those we consider lifelong family to those we share but a brief moment with. Through our interactions, we learn to love, to hate, to mourn, and to cherish. Most importantly, we learn to empathize- to broaden our horizons by feeling for others beyond our own selves.
It is in times like these where we crave human connection. Whether it be a smile from a stranger or the touch of a loved one, we all need one another. Whether they are positive, negative, simple, complex, or a combination, our relationships influence us deeply. These collective interactions are integral to the vibrancy of our lives and the discovery of our senses of purpose.
This year, VCFS celebrates the beauty of the convergence of our separate paths, which lead us to form connections that leave the world better than we found it. When our paths converge, we have the power to create meaningful change.
Q: How many student volunteers make the show happen?
Our show typically consists of a full cast and crew (made up of models, musicians, designers, makeup and hair artists, dancers, and our executive team) of 170+ students. However, this year due to COVID-19, we were forced to shrink our team slightly. This year we have a total of 132 students comprising our team.
Q: Are Queen’s University alumni involved as well?
Our cast and crew are entirely composed of students currently enrolled at Queen’s University. However, this year more than ever, we have begun working to highlight and keep in-contact with VCFS alumni through our blog and the creation of our alumni newsletter.
Our blog, managed by Press and Media Editor Mikayla Bergamin, highlights new topics every week. However, one post was entirely dedicated to celebrating our alumni and the various accomplishments they have gone on to achieve as influenced by VCFS. See the blog post here.
Our outreach team, Emma Black and Gili Zobary, have been working diligently to create our very first alumni newsletter. The newsletter brings our alumni community together and keeps them up to date on what VCFS is up to.
Q: Tell us about this year’s charity?
Vogue Charity Fashion Show has chosen to partner with Almost Home for the 2020/2021 year. Almost Home provides housing and support to families with children receiving medical care at local hospitals and clinics in the Kingston area. Other medical issues that bring families to Almost Home include children receiving treatment for cancer, children who have suffered an accident, and youth with ongoing challenges who might stay at Almost Home intermittently for years.
Doctors, nurses, therapists and other staff provide intensive medical care for children in hospital. Parents and siblings who stay at Almost Home are able to provide the emotional support and love which are equally essential. Daily accommodation for eleven families at Almost Home makes it easy for parents to maintain their bedside vigil. Children can frequently leave their hospital beds for a few hours to spend time with their families in a home-like setting. Children attending clinics have a place to go between appointments, or to stay overnight if necessary.
Q: How has COVID-19 affected this year’s show?
Typically, our annual event has come to be held at the Grand Theatre on Princess Street for three nights (Thursday-Saturday) in early March. However, due to COVID-19, our usual show proceedings will not be possible. With that being said, our executive team has been working tirelessly to plan what we believe will be an effective alternative and still raise money for our cause this year. We have decided to move forward with an online show that will be broadcasted live on Friday, March 26th and Saturday, March 27th of 2021. In addition to the change we have seen with the format of the show, COVID-19 has also impacted our fundraising efforts drastically. We have had to change the way in which VCFS supports Almost Home to maximize what we can offer during these tough times.
Q: Can you tell us about VCFS Diversity and Inclusion initiatives?
Vogue Charity Fashion Show recognizes that there is a lot of work to be done within our organization and further into our community regarding anti-racism education, practices, and systemic change. We understand that learning anti-racist practices and information, and unlearning racist behaviour and mindsets, does not have an endpoint and must be continuously worked on. We are committed to the work that is necessary to support and amplify the voices of QTBIPOC communities.
Read more about our diversity and inclusion initiatives.Q: Where can people go to find more information?
🌎 Our website (https://www.voguecharityfashionshow.com/)
Q: How can people help?
COVID-19 has definitely placed a setback on the ways we usually raise funds for the charity and how much people are able to give this year. Knowing this ahead of time, we chose Almost Home because they approached us with a plan of how they were planning on opening a thrift shop in the downtown Kingston area in order to act as a permanent fundraiser. Understanding current restrictions and that this year will look very different then in the past we knew if we could not provide Almost Home with a large amount of monetary donations, we could collect used clothing for their thrift store. VCFS ran a very successful clothing drive in early November and we are still continuously encouraging clothing donations throughout the Kingston community. Planned initiatives are being carried out in 2021 to continue to collect clothing and encourage monetary donations online. If you are not living in the Kingston area and would still like to help, please find the donation link below. Anything truly makes a difference!
Almost Home Thrift Store Updates: (https://www.facebook.com/AlmostHomeKingston)
Additionally, tickets for our show (which will be held on Friday, March 26th and Saturday, March 27th of 2021) go on sale on Friday, January 29th, 2021. Stay up to date on our social media for further details on how to purchase yours soon!
Q: What would you say to encourage someone to donate?
During these times it can be very difficult for someone to give a monetary donation. This year VCFS has worked hard in order to offer many different outlets for people to support Almost Home. This can be seen through clothing donations, sharing social media posts, or attending online events and initiatives. Almost Home is offering a vital service to the Kingston community and has become a staple within the city, known and utilized by many. If you are in the position where you can support Almost Home in any of the ways shared above just know that every dollar and ounce of effort goes directly back to benefitting the Kingston community. This charity is innovative and welcoming truly working towards offering the best experience possible for its visitors.