Mary Hampton

Mary Hampton, a Scottsdale-based entrepreneur, recently launch a new nonprofit organization, Rare Ambition, with her son Hunter and daughter Cambria.

Scottsdale area nonprofits are in need of the community’s help this fall and winter.

When COVID-19 swiftly canceled the galas and fundraisers this spring that typically draw hundreds of donors, nonprofits suffered.

Now, nonprofits, such as Camelot Therapeutic Horsemanship, have pivoted to virtual fundraisers, some of which take place this month.

For the Scottsdale-based nonprofit’s 11th Annual Starry Knights fundraising event, Camelot has replaced its in-person gala – which sold out last year – with a virtual event.

“A lot has changed since we celebrated Starry Knights 2019 but the strength, resolve, passion and commitment of the entire Camelot community remain the same,” said Mary Hadsall, Camelot’s executive director. 

As part of the virtual fundraiser, Camelot is selling exclusive gift boxes, called Camelot Prize Packs, that are filled with the nonprofit’s goodies and mailed to participants. Prize Packs range in price from $100 to $900 for a party of 10.

Participants will also receive early access to the online silent auction, a door prize ticket and inclusion in the keynote video.

“In addition to Prize Packs, supporters may also purchase stars in various denominations to dedicate to a loved one,” Hadsall said. 

“Stars are hung at the Camelot ranch and are a beautiful way to honor a cherished person or animal while also supporting Camelot’s therapeutic riding program,” she added.

Camelot offers free lessons in horsemanship to kids and adults with physical disabilities and depends on their annual galas to feed horses, maintain their facility and pay instructors. 

The nonprofit hopes that the new virtual format will reach more people and encourage new friends and family to participate.

“Ticket sales have always been an integral part of this fundraiser and since we won’t be holding an in-person event, we needed to get creative,” Hadsall said.

The online auction opens Oct. 19 and runs through Oct. 23. The gala finale starts Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. and the online auction closes Oct. 23 at 8 p.m.

New to the nonprofit scene, but just as in need of the community’s support this holiday season, is Rare Ambition.

Founded by a mother and her two children, Rare Ambition’s mission is to ensure families in need have food on the table this Thanksgiving. 

This year, its goal is to raise enough money to give away 100 Thanksgiving baskets to families in need.

The baskets, worth $250 each, are filled with everything families need to make and serve Thanksgiving dinner, from the turkey to the tablecloth and centerpiece.

The idea for Rare Ambition started at dinner five years ago.

“My kids were being bratty and entitled, and I didn’t like it,” said founder and Scottsdale-based entrepreneur Mary Hampton. “So, I went and got some blank pieces of paper and said, ‘Each of you write 10 things you’re going to do nice for other people.’ And I then sat down and did the same.”

Together, they completed 30 random acts of kindness within one month – iincluding putting together a Thanksgiving dinner for a needy family.

Over the next five years, Hampton, her daughter Cambria, and her son Hunter, anonymously donated more than 20 Thanksgiving baskets to Scottsdale-area families. 

“It became more about tradition and more about the memory that was going to get created for the family. It really hit us, it really resonated, and that changed us,” Mary said. “We started doing more and more baskets each year, and it became a real soft spot in my heart and with my kids.”

Not only was it important for Mary to continue the family tradition, but it was also important to her to name Cambria and Hunter as cofounders of the nonprofit.

“That title is actually really important because … they really learn who they are as people,” Mary said through tears.

 “They get to step up for others and, when they do, their life becomes greater and more fulfilling. They have a real sense of purpose.”

Rare Ambition is in need of monetary donations, which they will then use to equip each basket with food and tablescape items.

“It’s our attention to detail that makes Rare Ambition truly different by adding extras, like place settings, tablecloths, baking dishes and even accent quotes,” Cambria said.

“A lot of love, thought and preparation goes into each one,” Hunter added.

Rare Ambition also welcomes nominations for families deserving of the baskets.

“They can email [us], and it’ll go to me, Cambria, and Hunter. We would be able to then be able to help those families,” Mary said.

While not based in Scottsdale, Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona and Duet: Partners In Health & Aging both support Scottsdale area residents.

Both nonprofits are hosting virtual fundraisers in October and December, respectively.

Free Arts for Abused Children of Arizona was to hold its annual Art From the Heart art auction in the spring, but had to postpone due to COVID-19.

Months later, the nonprofit will now host a virtual version of the art auction from Oct. 21 through 26. 

The six-day event will feature the work of approximately 80 local artists, the featured artist being John Randall Nelson, whose “One-Eyed Jack” steel, 26-feet-high jackrabbit sculpture sits on the corner of Marshall Way and Indian School Road in Old Town.

“We’re thrilled to bring the community a robust art gallery online to benefit the children served by Free Arts,” said Lisa Greves, event chair. 

“Art Auction is always a favorite event for our supporters. This year, we’re hoping they can relax in the comfort of their own homes with a glass of wine or cup of coffee and enjoy supporting the great work of Free Arts online,” Greves added.

Funds raised during the Art from the Heart auction will fund the programs and services that serve neglected, abused, homeless and foster care children in Arizona. 

Free Arts programs are delivered by 900 volunteer mentors and artists who serve more than 8,000 children annually through partnerships with more than 40 social service child welfare agencies at more than 100 sites across Maricopa County. 

Free Arts estimates that, due to COVID-19, more than 150 traditional activities were cancelled between March and September, resulting in more than 2,700 children not being served in a traditional, in-person way. 

In response, Free Arts pivoted to host alternative programs, like take-home art projects and virtual theater camp, in turn serving nearly 4,000 children and adults throughout the state, including in Scottsdale.

As for Duet, the nonprofit’s 30th Annual Poinsettia Tea will be streamed online on Dec. 6 from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.

As part of the event, guests will not only bid on silent auction items but also have the option of receiving a Poinsettia Package filled with tea, coffee, delectable treats and fun surprises that will be delivered to their home prior to the event.

Funds raised from the event supports Duet’s health and aging services, which are provided free of charge for family caregivers, grandparents raising grandchildren, homebound adults, and faith communities. 

Tickets are $75 each, and guests must register ahead of time. 

“There’s no greater joy than losing the excuses and stepping up for another person,” said Hampton. “It would bring my family pure joy if the community would embrace this cause and help us make a genuine difference this holiday season.”