Ryan Crawford was at the recent open house for the Niagara-on-the-Lake Youth Campus in Virgil, and was blown away by what he saw.
The chef and owner of Ruffino’s Pasta Bar and Grill and BarBea has decided he wants to help.
He and his wife Martha Brett Rumble are expecting their first child in April, so while their boy or girl (they’re waiting to find out the old-fashioned way) is a few years away from enjoying the youth hub, this is a cause they are embracing, and are planning a fun Christmas fundraiser for kids that will benefit kids.
Each Sunday in December, with the exception of Christmas Day, his Mary Street restaurant will be open for families, by reservation. Kids will make their pizza with Santa, and have it with a drink and ice cream, while parents can order off the menu if they desire.
Photographer Betty Loo will bring her airstream and set up a photo booth in the restaurant so kids can have photos of the event. The charge for each child, including the photo, will be $20, with proceeds going to the Youth Campus.
Maria Mavridis of Cork’s is helping with some of the food, says Crawford.
He is pumped at how successful a fundraiser this could be. He expects to take reservations every 30 minutes from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. so kids can make their pizza with Santa and then sit down to eat, while a new group begins.
“We’re going to make it as much fun as we can,” he says.
And Santa, who loves kids, will make sure it is fun, Crawford adds.
He got the idea from Steve Gilchrist, the Santa of the family, who retired to Niagara-on-the Lake from Thornbury, where he was Santa for 36 years. Add to that 12 grandkids, and he is well-equipped to entertain children. He even has a new outfit, and is really looking forward to the event.
Crawford is predicting he can raise about $10,000 over the month. “It’s going to be awesome,” he says.
For reservations call 289-819-0179.