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Special Events

Big business, big hearts for disaster victims

The disaster stories of last year, including earthquakes and hurricanes, have faded from the headlines--at least for those who don't live in the ravaged areas. But suppliers in the special event industry haven't forgotten. Whether it's south Asia or the southeastern U.S., event vendors continue to aid those in need.

Creative Tent International of Weed, Calif., has acted quickly with its Qwiktrac tents. After Hurricane Katrina roared through the U.S. Gulf Coast region in August, the company donated two 30-by-60-foot structures to aid relief efforts in Louisiana. When Hurricane Rita threatened the region in September, one relief team worried that it didn't have time to take its tent down. "We told him, 'Just make sure you guy it off,' Rita came through, and the tent was still standing," notes Creative Tent president Carol Fontius.

Creative Tent is watching now as one of its 30-by-60 Qwiktracs nears completion as a temporary hospital in Pakistan. The company donated the structure to aid doctors helping those injured in the 7.5 magnitude earthquake that wracked north Pakistan on Oct. 8. Some 70,000 people died in the quake, with tens of thousands more hurt.

Courier service UPS picked up the cost to ship the tent to Pakistan, where the doctors themselves set it up. Just this month, "We have the photo of their first patient," Fontius notes, "someone who lost the bottom parts of both legs, and is now mobile for the first time since the quake."


Last year, Memphis-based Mahaffey Fabric Structures provided temporary camps to house relief workers in the wake of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. But on Saturday, the company rescued some young people from a social disaster--the possible cancellation of their senior prom. Mahaffey provided a 9,000-square-foot pole tent at no charge so that 700 seniors at Biloxi (Miss.) High School could enjoy a gourmet dinner. The Bucks for Biloxi group--philanthropists from Pennsylvania--gathered money, goods and services to give teenagers in the devastated city the prom they feared they would never have due to lack of venues and funding.

"Mahaffey is both pleased and proud to be part of a noble undertaking that will create memories for these young adults that will last a lifetime," said Mahaffey's Mark Milbury, "while also reminding them that many out there still remember and care about their well-being."


New York-based Rose Brand teamed up with Mainstage Theatrical Supply of Pensacola, Fla., to donate a full set of stage curtains to the Sabine Pass School, a small grammar school on the Texas gulf coast that was battered by Hurricane Rita.

"For over 35 years, Sabine Pass School has regularly won regional and state theatrical competitions, and the badly damaged school auditorium was the town’s pride and joy," reports Rose Brand's Margaret (Maggie) Jacobstein. "In recognition of the importance of arts in education, Rose Brand and Mainstage welcomed the opportunity to show their appreciation for school theater programs by their donation to the Sabine Pass School." The project was featured on the April 14 episode of the TV program "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition."

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