The VAII Clubhouse held its annual Christmas Bike Raffle at VAII Park on the evening of December 16. Every year around the holidays, the VAII Clubhouse, along with SRPMIC Youth Services, hosts this event for families. It gives residents of the VAII neighborhood and other members of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community a chance to win a bicycle for a young family member. With Christmas right around the corner, it was the perfect opportunity.
The line at the raffle table within the park reached out to the road as families waited to submit their children’s names for the raffle. The event gave away 119 bicycles. Support for the bicycles was provided by the Salt River Landfill, Talking Stick Resort and Casino Arizona, Walmart on Pima Road, and the SRPMIC Youth Services Department.
During the evening, vendors stationed throughout the park sold food, jewelry and clothing items. There were game booths and a Santa Claus booth for family photographs. Song and dance performances took place throughout the evening, featuring the Boys and Girls Club Pow-Wow Group, the Wolf Pack Dancers, the VAII Clubhouse Christmas Carolers and the Soaring Eagle Masonic Dance Group.
The first year that the raffle took place, the VAII Clubhouse awarded one bicycle to a family in the Community. Since then, the raffle has continued to grow every year, with more bicycles for Christmas and more people volunteering to help.
“This year, each program from Youth Services had a booth for the kids: pictures with Santa, hot cocoa, cotton candy, game booths, and some were the entertainment for the evening,” said Katrina Watson, youth development specialist for the VAII Clubhouse. “We also had different [SRPMIC] departments and organizations that came out to provide information, or offer free activities for the youth or free food: the Life Enhancement And Resource Network (LEARN), which includes the Fatherhood Program, Healthy Relationships Program, Mentorship and Cash Assistance staff; the Arizona Department of Gaming, the SRPMIC Diabetes Program and the Early Childhood Education Center Family Advocate Program.”
Watson added that this was the first year that the program advertised for vendors. Since it takes place right before Christmas, “we thought it would be a great time for some shopping,” said Watson.
The bike raffle was founded with the VAII Clubhouse staff, Salt River Coalition and the dedicated volunteers who still help to this day at every VAII Clubhouse outreach event. The Clubhouse marketed the event through email, “save the dates” and passing out flyers door to door as early as September.
Overall, the VAII staff worked hard to collaborate with others in making the bicycle raffle a joyful holiday event for the families.