Canada
Dancers peel for dollars to buy holiday hampers in Maple Ridge

Caddyshack servers Romana Van Lissom (L), Catherine Blackwell (C) and Ashley Leeburn (R) donate their tips to the fundraiser. They also raise money by offering themselves up for dates and taking part in a bra auction

Credits: submitted

CHRIS CAMPBELL | QMI AGENCY

Maple Ridge’s most unusual Christmas fundraiser slid down a pole for the 17th-straight year Sunday – once again inviting controversy and fraying nerves at the charity it benefits.

The eight-hour Caddyshack Strip-a-thon was on track to raise $20,000 for the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society, according to organizers. Strippers each donated a free performance, while 40 bartenders and servers donated wages and tips.

But not everyone was happy with the event.

Hamper organizer Lorraine Bates said she received complaints, as usual, from people who think the society should not accept money from exotic dancing.

“People can judge (the dancers) whatever way they want,” Bates said. “It’s not illegal. That’s what they choose to do to raise money for people that are in need.”

But the event is hard on Bates’ emotions because the criticism often gets personal.

Bates said public criticism turns off some families already embarrassed about registering for a hamper.

“They hear people saying it’s ‘bad money’ (so) they just don’t register … The (critics) are hurting kids when they decide to say something negative.”

However, event co-organizer Yvan Charette likes controversy, pointing to 2009 when a federal Liberal candidate named Dan Olson waged a public campaign.

“That’s the year we broke the record,” Charette said. “Obviously Maple Ridge and the community showed this was something they want.”

Charette said the Strip-a-thon endures because it’s always evolving and has added a bra auction and bids for dates with servers.

Catherine Murray, chair of the gender, sexuality and women’s studies department at SFU, doesn’t see much reason to object.

“This is part of a continuum of exotica and other sorts of things that we have to accept and we have to establish as what we call good business practice,” she said. “Philanthropy of this type is an example of good business practice.”

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