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Mike Walton
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Profile of Mike Walton
To give magicians the opportunity to practice their routines and more importantly to provide some good service to the community, volunteer magic is an excellent win-win scenario for all involved.

Where have you volunteered your services as a magician and what type of performance did you provide? Was it close-up magic, stage or parlor type performance, etc? How was it received in that venue? What were the challenges?

I'm researching getting funding for a project to provide multiple magicians to perform for kids, adults and seniors in need of a little help in the greater Chicago area and am trying to find "the best" venues. Your comments can be about your experiences in any city, state or country as all of your insight will be beneficial. If you don't have any direct experience, but have some insight, then please share as well Smile

I'll start with my limited experience. I've been volunteering at a children's hospital doing bedside magic since last year and the experience from working with kids has been truly amazing and extremely fun. The patients enjoy the magic as it's a perfect diversion to their situation, especially when a patient's case is difficult or they've been in the hospital for a long time. My performances usually are limited to ages 6 up to 25, but typically there are more 12-18 year olds than anyone else. I do magic room to room and occasionally for the kids in dialysis.

The only challenge I have is a when the patient doesn't speak English but it's only happened 2 or 3 times. I go on a weekly basis for 1-3 hours depending on the patient load and working with the staff including the nurses has been enjoyable as well. I highly recommend volunteering at hospitals.
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Profile of Allan
As a full time close up magician, it is hard to volunteer due to the fact that you can't accept a paid gig once you are committed. When I was a part timer I did some volunteer work.

I applaud your commitment. It is wonderful that you do this on a weekly basis. THREE CHEERS FOR YOU
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Profile of KirkG
I think most volunteer work is pretty flexible with your schedule. I wouldn't use that as an excuse to not volunteer.

Most of the time paid gigs are in the evening, and if you have to work a day time trade show for a week, you just don't volunteer that weel. Or better yet, arrange a substitute.

I have done strolling and bedside and stand up at charity functions, elder retirement and hospital wards.

Be pleasent and mindfull that some eyes, ears and hands don't work as well as they did, could or should and choose from your repetoire to make that unimportant.

The respect and company will almost overshadow the magic.

Kirk G
Reis O'Brien
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Seattle, WA
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Profile of Reis O'Brien
I have been seriously thinking of volunteering to do some magic at a local hospital myself and I'm glad to hear such positive feedback on the experience. The idea makes me a bit nervous, but you have confirmed for me that it could be as rewarding as I had hoped.
Homo vult decipi; decipiatur
Stuart Hooper
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Profile of Stuart Hooper
I've done two charity functions for to raise money for poor children. They were my biggest shows.

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Profile of DanielGreenWolf
I have had the pleasure of volunteering my time with the National Cancer Society. Not only was it an interesting learning experience, I get to put it on my clients list and, in many cases, people look at it and go "wow" because they place that name with high regard, which places me in higher regard which gets me more and better shows.
For those shy about charity performing, never forget the business end of not making money. ;-)

-Daniel GreenWolf
-Much love,
Daniel GreenWolf
Celtic Magician
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Profile of Paddy
The only organization I will donate time to is the Make A Wish Foundation. Other than that, if a charity has paid staff, they can pay me. if more than 50% of the income goes to "administrative and fundraising costs" Then I raise my rates because they are paying themselves more than they give to the receipients of the charity.

Just MY opinion and practices.
Non Impediti Ratione Cogitationis

I reject your reality & substitute my own
Peter Marucci
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Paddy writes: ". . . if a charity has paid staff, they can pay me."

Yeah, I always figured the Salvation Army, and all those other churches were rip-offs! As well as all those hopsitals, nursing homes, veterans' hospitals, and seniors' homes.

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Profile of ivan7
I think local retirement homes are a good place to go. You can get performing experience and visit some lonely folks that way.
Justin Craddock
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Profile of Justin Craddock
Every year I do a Valentines Day dance for children; the kids love it but conditions are bad. I have to do effects that are self explanatory due to loud music, kids follow me around, and parents want me to do childrens parties for next to nothing. However, I do it for experience and the kids love it.
"When a performance is over, What remains"
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Profile of Knox
I've never preformed outside of my circle of friends, and friends of friends before... but I'm heading out to do a charity gig with some magician friends of mine later this week. It should be interensting... $20 bucks says I get the shakes, lol.

I'll get back to you on how I go.
Mike Walton
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What kind of charity gig? Are you doing walk-around for a fund raiser or something similar?
kid iowa
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Profile of kid iowa
A great venue, but often forgotten about, is the local VA Hospital. I have worked with veterans since I joined the Navy 12 years ago, and the response put out by the staff and the patients themselves is tremendous. People often forget about these heroes, but give them an hour or two and you will get some memories that will follow you for the rest of your life. I've had the honor of performing from the lowest enlisted back from Afghanistan/Iraq to the Commandant of the Marine Corps (General Krulak, who I can't speak highly enough of) and a WWII Medal of Honor recipient. All of the performances have been more than worth while.
Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile...can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, "I served in the United States Navy." J.F.K.
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Profile of twistedace
I have done lots of charity work now that I think about it. I've done close up and stage for my college siblings weekend where little brothers and sisters come to visit their older siblings, stage magic for an annual college festival, close up for a fund raiser for children with cancer, parlor type magic for the special olympics, and comedy magic for a fund raiser my friends held at a comedy club. Lots of fun and very rewarding...especially the special olympics and the fund raiser for children with cancer. I did those two events for 4 years in a row at college free of charge. I have received some very nice paid gigs from these charity events. The magic was well received and more importantly greatly appreciated.
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Randy Shaw
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Profile of majorshaw
Have you always paid someone helping you with your magic? If you don't give you do get. I do understand you can't give all your time away but it's your city, twp,state. Next time you need blood ask how much the red cross charges.

AIMC with Silver Star
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Profile of illuzns
I will apologize in advance for this long posting,but I feel that this needs to be said.
I have performed for many different charities over the past years here in the Washington DC area. Most recently the Hospital for Sick Children in DC(Not to be mistaken for the hospital for Healthy children)This venue was truly worth doing at no charge.
I have performed for the white house this past Easter for their Annual Easter Egg roll.(Which by the way, everyone that performs there donates their time strangely enough.Food vendors as well.)
I also have to agree with Kid Iowa about the forgotten VA hospitals.Coincidentally, I was scheduled to perform for one,the weekend after 9/11 happened,in Richmond Virginia Sponsered by Rolling Thunder.This was really great to see these people being rolled out in their beds and wheel chairs just to see me perform.Truly a gratifying experience I would recommend for all of you performing magicians to do.
I have also performed for the annual "Tips for Kids Charities" in Alexandria Va. where throughout the day a series of performers are scheduled to perform at a particular restaurant in town and the patrons are told that ALL tips and proceeds including what the Restaurant brings in will go directly to underpriviledged kids in the area. This type of thing brings politicians (Mayors,Towncouncil, Senators,Etc...) very near to the public eye and is very well publicized and the referal's are endless.

This being said, It is also important to note that what PADDY says is true and that a lot of "Charity" or "Non-Profit" organizations will do everything they can in order to get ANY performers to work for free.
I do scrutinize all charity work prior to giving them a definitive answer on whether or not I will perform for them.If they have an entertainment budget,then they can afford to pay you.If they are paying someone else,They can afford to pay you too.
As much as I'm sure all of us would love to help those that truly cannot afford to hire us.It is also necessary to remember that you may also be inadvertantly taking a paid gig from a fellow professional performing magician in your area.I'm not saying that you shouldn't consider this type of work,but that you should be very aware that some organizations will in fact take advantage of your Kind hearted nature.I do hope that this helps in your decision,in this type of venue.As many times, it is a very good and worthy cause that you are contibuting to.
Your friend in magic,
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Profile of itsmagic
This is an interesting topic. I had thought about charity performance at a children's hospital, but was afraid of the unknown, namely 1) would the kids understand my magic 2) how contagious are any of the disease. I must apologize in advance, for I am very unaware in this area. I would love to donate my time if it would help someone just smile or have a little nicer day cuz I was there.
Jim Davis
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Profile of Jim Davis
I have volunteered for functions, and organizations I believe in.

For instance, I always do a Christmas party for my church congregation. I have performed at, as well as worked in a fundraising capacity, for a local shelter for children. I do an anual show for a historical society in my local community. (Kind of fits my character best.) I have worked a celebrity golf fundraiser for the crime prevention unit, anti-drug campaings, and others.

Ultimatly, they have not only proven very rewarding on a personal level, they have been rewarding on a financial level as well. I have never been told I was not to pass out my card, not to make contacts, and not to attempt to sell myself. But of course, I have done everything I can to sell the reason why I am there to help. That ultimatly sells me as well. I have made great friends with the Mayor of my community, and because of that have booked numerous shows because of him and my volunteer time.

I don't accept requests for charity work. I go looking for them, and again I only work for those that I believe in. I have on occasion asked for expences, espically if I had a long drive, required using a lot of disposable props (balloons, bullet blanks, souviner cards, etc.) Again I have never been turned down, but I have always provided resonable proof of my expenses and kept it too a minimum.

Before the event I always secure a letter of reciept for my time. Then I can also use it as a tax deduction.

Bottom line is you make it or break it. But you have to decide if it is time well spent, or are you looking for the bottom dollar.

itsmagic, don't even worry about a contagious illness, you won't be allowed to go near anyone who is that sick. The kids who need a smile are going thu serious long-term problems such as cancer, birth defects, or other illnesses that require specialized treatment. The kind of treatment you offer will help the heart. Don't ever miss an oppurtunity to help out.

Good luck to both of you.
Diamond Jim Davis "The Cardslinger" ~~~ Magic from the '80's....................the 1880's!
<BR><BR>Don't just be a magician, be a human interest!
Mike Walton
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Profile of Mike Walton
On 2004-02-23 02:05, itsmagic wrote:
I had thought about charity performance at a children's hospital, but was afraid of the unknown, namely 1) would the kids understand my magic 2) how contagious are any of the disease. I must apologize in advance, for I am very unaware in this area.

From my experience, you won't have to work around infectious disease as the hospital won't have you perform in those rooms which are clearly marked. Also, if you plan to do bedside magic on a regular basis, the hospital gives you a nice overview and training to help you get accustomed to the workings of a hospital. So far I have not seen a room where there has been an airborne infectious disease, but there have been rooms where the kid's defenses are so weak, that the visitors need to wear a mask and gloves. Typically these rooms are filled with babies. And for the older kids I haven't figured out any card magic that I could do with rubber gloves that doesn't require me to set a card down on that small roll around adjustable table in their room. At this point, when a room like that comes up, I just avoid it, but I'm working on trying to figure out some effects.

Also, in regards to if they would understand your magic. I think at ages 8 or 9, kids can understand any direct, simple magic. I do card magic, and do a modified ambitious card for kids down to ages 5 or 6. They draw a picture of themselves on the card, and it keeps jumping to the top of the deck. It's not ideal, and I'm working on some silk and thumb tip effects for those that are ages 4-7, but you would be amazed at what kids understand. You really don't need that many effects, and you can use the same ones in every kid's hospital room. A quick routine would be Here then There, then Red Hot Mama, then Doc Daley's Last Trick. It seems transpositions are simple, very easy to follow, and pack a huge wallop which kids from age 7-8+ can follow easily. It helps if you get them involved like have them snap over the deck or wave their hand.

Then, when they're basking in astonishment and have maple syrup poured on their little minds that are trying to figure out just what happened, you're done and thank the patient for doing magic with you. Their parents love you as they're desparate for any distraction for the child and the kids now have a positive note for the day and for their stay and maybe they're not thinking about their grey hospital room so much. PM me if you have any more questions.

..and I don't want to get paid for this. I get way too much out of it. This is a perfect thing to do if you don't perform now, and would like some experience while making kids' days. When I'm done, I have a bigger smile then they do.
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Profile of eryanic
I performed once as a clown + magician with a friend at a hospital..entertaining the sick children there...
then just last month I did a show for the sunday school kids...
not confident enough to volunteer...don't think I'm good enough yet...
the one at the hospital was under a school project..and the other one was my mom's friend asking me to do it..
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