Who: Kind folks, film-lovers, knitters, true believers
What: Give Us Wings 10th Annual Celebration and Silent Auction
Where: University of Minnesota McNamara Alumni Center
When: Saturday, March 28
Why: To help build Mari Village in Uganda, a haven for people with disabilities and their families.
The expressed purpose of the Give Us Wings charity event was to raise funds to build Mari Village, a self-sustained settlement for a group of impoverished Ugandans (some of whom have disabilities). But then there was a little wine, a little dinner. One thing led to another—my remembrance of the evening started looking less like a comprehensive gathering, and more like a vignette of a single memorable encounter.
Sure, I enjoyed my perusals of the silent auction. But my favorite part of the evening was the makeshift bazaar, where I was free to browse for hand-carved wooden buttons, leopard-print resin bangles, and other Kenyan- and Ugandan-inspired handicrafts. My soft spot is for textiles, so I practically dove for the folding tables heaped with table runners and shawls. In the end, I settled on an all-American bright blue shawl—not because I didn’t care for earthen African-inspired wears, but because it was pinned with a tag that read “prayer shawl.”
Forget cognitive dissonance. This purchase decision would be reinforced by heavens! By chance, I later got to meet the maker of my new shawl, a breast cancer survivor and warm, lovely woman named Brenda Peterson—we happened to be assigned to the same dinner table. Brenda explained that as she knitted the shawl, she had already prayed for its eventual owner. “God leads me to whomever I’m supposed to hand ’em out to,” she said.
That’s just a roundabout way of saying: I intend to stay wrapped in the thing for weeks to come.
As is often the case, my date for the evening was my close friend Colin Covert, the film critic for the Star Tribune . (I promise to bring a cute girl to the next party.) He had kindly agreed to auction off a year’s worth of film screenings and celebrity-interview tagalongs. But the not-so-covert Covert closed the deal by whooping, shouting, and generally making a red-faced scene as he stepped up to the auction block alongside the evening’s R & B-flavored auctioneer, Arlana Vaughan. The rest is cloudy.
Between donations and auction items—not to mention the lovely spread at the bazaar—the event raised an impressive $81,000. That’s over half of what’s needed to build Mari Village.