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Fairies offer fun and funding to community

Organization involved with 25 Auburn events
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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An Auburn-based organization is using fun and outright silliness to bring smiles and funds to the local community. Meadow Vista resident Fran Haynes founded the Sugar Plump Fairies in 1997 and in Sept. 2007 the group became a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works to bring the arts to Auburn-area youth. Through the Fairies’ ArtRageous Grant Program the organization has funded 23 grants totaling $9,100, according to Michael Leydon, president of the Sugar Plump Fairies. Haynes said the grants go toward exposing youth to all forms of art, including theatre, music, painting and more. Haynes said she was inspired to start the group after attending a circus and performing arts camp. “I went to Wavy Gravy’s Camp Winnarainbow and I came away from that summer camp … and then it was like, ‘I have got to bring this to Auburn.’” The Sugar Plump Fairies started out as more of a street-performing group, before developing into the organization it is today, Haynes said. “My wife, and myself and our son are founding members, and I remember the first year Fran asked us to play around in the Parade of Lights, and it was so fun, and we only wanted to do more,” Leydon said. The Fairies are also involved in about 25 events in Auburn annually including the Festival of Lights Parade, the Community Festival and the Auburn Symphony’s Kinderkonzert. So what is the organization’s daily goal? “It’s to draw attention to ourselves for good causes,” Haynes said. “It’s a play on the words Sugar Plump Fairies, it’s about big heartedness.” The Fairies achieve this goal by donning colorful, shiny, sparkly, feathery outfits complete with hats, glasses, wigs, makeup and more. Haynes said shopping for Fairy garb is always fun for members. “One of the Fairies rules I made up is more is better,” Haynes said. Leydon said the Fairies often receive positive comments about their approach to fundraising and community involvement. “Often people will say to us I can’t imagine anyone having this much fun raising money and helping people,” Leydon said. Although the Fairies attend a plethora of events, they don’t accept any payment, Leydon said. Funds for their grants are raised through donations and their annual April Foolery Costume Ball. The organization’s grants are limited to $500 and are geared toward smaller groups who might not be able to secure more mainstream grants. Haynes said one grant she was proud of took a group of students from Chana High School to see the stage rendition of “To Kill a Mockingbird” in Nevada City. “Events and programs that expose the kids to cultures and diversity they might not otherwise be able to enjoy are particularly valuable to the Fairies,” Leydon said. The Fairies also partner with groups like the Auburn Education Foundation, Auburn Boys & Girls Club and the Auburn 49er Lions Club to promote those group’s events. “We will support virtually any event that really does benefit the community, and I think that’s fairly unique,” Leydon said. “Most people try to focus on one area.” Nancey Holland, treasurer for the organization, said she enjoys several things about being part of the group. “I think the joy that it brings other people when they interact with us, and interacting with the children, that is my favorite, and supporting other nonprofit organizations,” Holland said. Fellow Fairies member Peggy Spurrier said she was overjoyed to join the group. “When I started I was just so honored,” Spurrier said. “I coveted belonging to this group of people, knowing the idea was to bring a smile to a child’s face. Not only are we doing this for the community, but we get a lot of pleasure out of it.” Holland said one of her favorite Fairies memories so far was getting involved with the Healing Journeys conferences. Healing Journeys is based in Sacramento and its conferences act as an educational and support network for people living with cancer. “The first one I attended was in San Francisco,” Holland said. “It was pretty overwhelming to see all those cancer patients come in.” The Fairies dressed the patients up with hats, wigs and face paint. “People gave us hugs as they were leaving,” Holland said. Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ------------------------------------------------------ Sugar Plump Fairies and April Foolery When: 8 p.m., April 9 Where: Auburn Masonic Hall, 956 ½ Lincoln Way, Auburn What: A costume ball with a no host bar, dance music, light show, silent auction, finger foods and prizes. Costumes or formal wear are encouraged. Tickets: $25 in advance, $35 at the door, $300 reserved table for eight. Tickets are available at Sun River Clothing Co. and Polished…exclusively nails or call (530) 368-1952. To apply for a grant or to apply to be a Fairy: Visit sugarplumpfairies.org Information: Call Michael Leydon at (916) 847-4632