Arabian Night a success; refugee fund gets a $9,100 boost

Arabian Night a success; refugee fund gets a $9,100 boost

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PHOTO: Lanny Cross auctions off Marilyn Ricci – well, more accurately, a few hours of her housekeeping services – during the benefit for the Atikokan love for Refugees committee.

About 150 enjoyed a delicious Lebanese meal, got something of a refugee’s perspective on the current struggles in Syria, and raised $9,100 for the Atikokan Love for Refugees committee, at a dinner here May 27.

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“It went very well, the whole evening,” said Marilyn Ricci, a sentiment echoed heartily by other members of the committee.

Kabab Village brought the food, Fadi Dalal and Bushra Jabri took charge of the kitchen, and the committee and a half dozen volunteers provided wonderful table service. The five course meal opened with a luscious lentil soup, followed by pita with a tasty hummus, and two salads (parsley-based taboulleh and a Mediterranean with a unique dressing). The main course consisted of the restaurant’s namesake, chicken and beef kababs; they were scrumptiously seasoned, and came with a light garlic sauce that was to die for, as well as golden rice.

Dessert was baklava (wafered phylo dough stuffed with pistachio and doused with a delicious rosewater and orange blossom syrup) and maamoul (semolina shortbread pastries filled with dates), capped with Arabic coffee (an espresso-like coffee prepared by press and sweetened with cardamon).

A light collection of traditional Arabic melodies played on the Legion’s new sound system throughout the meal.

Afterwards, five young dancers from the Atikokan Dance Studio gave a delightful preview of their end of season dance show (held Tuesday at St. Pat’s). Elizabeth Young, Ella Richard, Emily Veenbaas, Grace Fisk, and Hailee Strom were clearly enjoying themselves, and handled the small stage with grace and aplomb. Emily Martin is their leader.

Next, emcee Michael McKinnon walked the assembly through a short collection of images prepared by Jabry and Dalal detailing the tragedy that has befallen Syria since civil war erupted in 2011. He concluded with Atikokan Love for Refugees committee member Liz MacKay’s words:

“I know that no single donation or action will end the suffering. But together, we can make a small difference. We don’t have to be bystanders to history. We can fight back with our compassion and generosity. We want this world to be a better place.”

The committee is aiming to raise $22,000 to sponsor Syrian refugees to come to Atikokan. With the proceeds from the dinner, it has now raised almost $15,000.

Lanny and Kim Cross took the stage next to auction off twenty-five of the larger donations to the cause made by Atikokan and area businesses, artists, and individuals. A canoe bookcase from Picture This Home Décor (realized: $500) and a Souris River Canoe (realized: $3,100) capped the successful auction. Lanny’s quick wit and charm made it a fun experience even for the losing bidders.

Finally, the organizers drew the thirty or so winners in a ticket auction that contributed mightily to the evening’s fund-raising.

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