Monday, March 2, 2009

2009: Québec’s First Annual Blank-Fest Charity Event

Jon Asher with donated items Saturday, February 21st. Photographed by Phil Cyr.

Blank-Fest Québec, in affiliation with Montreal’s Old Mission Brewery and local indie bands, hosted the first annual fundraiser at Montreal’s renowned music venue, Bar St. Laurent 2 on Saturday, February 21st.

Event organizer, Jon Asher, is handling this event in hopes to spread awarness of the troubles the homeless of Québec face. Admission was a blanket, or clothing, and the anticipated goal was to reach a 100-blanket minimum by the end of the indie-torn night. All of which will go to the homeless this year in order to help them through these cold times. Some new, some old, and…preferably no borrowed blankets was the theme of the night.

Even the bands of the night (Fifty Stars Anger, Ashtray, Vinyl Hero, Special Ops) got in the spirit, bringing in garbage bags filled with blankets, jackets, gloves, you name it. Asher’s message: “the main thing is awareness. Awareness is the biggest thing you want to generate with charities. You can go buy another one [blanket], someone needs it more than you.”
Blank-Fest highlights the importance of working together and to just do something simple to help the homeless. Blank-Fest founder, Kenn Rowell of the Baghdaddios, proves that you can turn hope into reality. With its roots originating in New York City, 1997, Kenn, along with his musician buddies simply had, as Asher puts it, a wish to “give back to the community” and got the now international charity rolling. Bar St. Laurent was the only Montreal city music venue that offered to put up the chairty event for free Saturday night, and thanks to them, Blank-Fest continues to spread its message.

But why February, why not host the event during the holiday season? Asher confesses, “I like that I chose February because everyone does it around Christmas and then everyone forgets.” The reality of our environment at this time is indeed a harsh one, both economical and climate-wise. However, we cannot forget those who are less fortunate. The homeless have their “significant stories, and some even have Masters Degrees,” says Asher of our local “forgotten” population. The homeless of Québec, as Asher stresses, are just like us, only they’ve simply taken a small wrong turn somewhere along the road to success. Unfortunately, those small turns can lead to serious injury and even death given Québec’s below-zero-degree winter temperatures for months at a time.

Yes folks, just one blanket can make the difference. Such was the point Asher attempted and succeeded in making Saturday night. All proceeds collected throughout the night make their way to Montreal’s Old Mission Brewery, who will generously distribute the pieces throughout this winter season.

Final count on what was collected for Blank-Fest Québec’s first event:
Blankets: 52; Jackets: 68; Sleeping Bags: 15; Shoes/ Boots: 26 pairs; Shirts: 84; Pants: 101; Sweaters: 101; Mittens/gloves: 13 pairs; Tuques: 19; Scarves: 12; Socks: 9 pairs; Pillows: 3.

For more information on Blank-Fest, please visit:

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