If you and your family are walking through a park in Red Deer one day and all of a sudden you come upon a gnome, don’t panic.
A new fun and entertaining way to raise money to start the JDFT Strong non-profit organization to help families who have been left with nothing from the recent events of the Slave Lake fires that destroyed homes has been sweeping through Red Deer and it all started with a gnome.
Jo Dumont, owner of Jo Dumont Fitness Training, started ‘The Summer of Gnomes’ project to raise money for organizations such as the Red Cross and the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter (CAWES) to help with families who have now have nothing.
Folks can purchase a gnome and volunteers will then paint it and put a name of the purchaser’s choice on it. The gnome is then hidden somewhere in Red Deer and photo is taken of the gnome and it is put on the facebook page with a hint for anyone to find.
The game is for young and old and is like a scavenger hunt, but if you find a gnome you are asked to move it to another location, take a photo, and put it on the page for others to find with a small hint of your own.
Each week 20 gnomes are available to purchase and the gnome with the most photos taken at the end of the week wins a prize such as movie tickets, or gift certificates donated from local businesses.
Also there are corporate gnomes that can be purchased, where businesses get their logo painted on the gnome for advertising purposes.
Dumont said not a lot of people know about the fundraiser yet and of the 40 gnomes that have been hidden some have disappeared. One gnome by the name of ‘Cool Beans’ has already been smashed.
“One big part of it is to highlight where the family-friendly places in Red Deer are,” said Dumont. “It is kind of fun and one of our goals is to teach kids how far one action can go and also for them to see they helped start something that is going to help families in the long run.”
A few of specialty painted gnomes, such as Spandy Andy, Papa Smurf and Spider Man, will also be auctioned off with a silent auction on the facebook page with a minimum bid of $40.
“There is so much going on that nobody knows about so we are trying to use social media to get everyone involved.”
Dumont said the idea came about when her staff was thinking about things they could do. “We are out of the box in everything we do and ‘The Summer of the Gnomes’ was born.
“Number one is that we always want to be involved in the community, number two is family, and number three is fitness.”
There are almost 40 gnomes around the City now and the project will run all summer and will end on Sept. 4.
“We were just trying to think of an idea where we could incorporate family and community at the same time,” said Dumont. “We don’t have enough space in our gym or enough members to rely on them to start a non-profit and that’s not fair anyway so we really needed to get the whole community involved.
“It is just something fun to do in Red Deer, because we really don’t know what all is out there, and we wanted kids to have something to do as a family. So now we have all these families hunting gnomes which is really cool.”
Dumont also said it is fun and very random to see a gnome sitting on a bench somewhere. They plan on holding the fundraiser every year.
“One of our mottos is ‘I am not just strong, I am JDFT strong’ because of the amount of community and support you get here. So we want that to expand towards people who are displaced from their homes and we want to be that shoulder you can lean on when it seems like there is nothing else you can do.”
There are about 19 volunteers who are helping with the project and Dumont hopes that they will continue to grow and she also hopes the gnomes will last through the summer.
“If you see a gnome don’t ruin it. Lot of hours and money has gone into them and maybe some day you might need our help.”
To get involved with ‘Summer of the Gnome’ visit www.jodumontfitnesstraining.com.