After someone asked about performing at charities;
How does one get started in working with a charity? Is it like getting
started at a hospital? What do you do when working with a charity?
Well, the best way to getting started is calling the charity up, mention your name and ask if they would be interested in having a mascot performer for their charity. In some cases, they will have a specific mascot that they will look for a performer to be (i.e. Some libraries/book fairs would bring in somebody to perform as Clifford), but in most cases you would have to contribue the suit.
Sometimes, you might also know somebody who works or volunteers with the charity that you could have them spread the word to the director of the charity, which was with my case. My aunt is a member of Big Brothers/Big Sisters in my area and I was able to talk to her and ask the director about possibly getting some mascot charity work. You have to ask nicely and be patient about this. I started asking about mascoting for Big Brothers/Big Sisters around early November 2002 and never saw my first event until April 2003 so don't expect to get a gig right away, you might have to wait a couple months before they finally work you into their plans.
What you do during a charity event depends on the type of event. My first event was a “Month of the Young Child” event at the local mall. Big Brothers/Big Sisters wanted me to go around and give out ribbons (but with the size of paws I had, there was no way I was able to do that :P) so I walked around with a furless lackey and she pinned the ribbons on kids shirts while I interacted with the kids. My second event was the “Bowling For Kids Sake” event which was at the local bowling alley and I was basically held the 50-50 ticket bucket as I walked with a couple helpers who sold the tickets. Sometimes, when the bucket was pretty much empty, I could pull an antic like run up and hold the bucket up to the customer or stick my muzzle in there like I was sniffing in there or trying to eat the tickets/money. Other events were just basic interaction with the kids at a miniature golf course and at the local Boys & Girls Club. Each event was successful and I pleased alot of the BBBS board members and have been invited back to the events.
Good response there. Is there a specific person you should request
when you call the charity? You mentioned the charity director. Is
there something like an entertainment/events director?
I would say the main director of the charity, unless they do have an events director. The local Big Brothers/Big Sisters doesn't have an events director, so I just talked to the main director. I'm pretty sure there are some charities that will have an event director and you would have to talk to them. The best bet would be to ask for somebody who directs the events and go from there.
I would also imagine that you'd also have an escort where you're going.
What about areas for changing?
An escort is a very good thing to have at most events. Especially if there are kids running around wildly in a wide open area. And if you are expected to walk around and pass out brochures, candy, or something, then it's best to have an escort with you so you can just focus on your main task and not have somebody suddenly come up from behind and pull hard on your tail or get tripped up on something. There is some events that can be held in a small area or you are only expected to stay in one area where an escort won't really be too necessary (i.e. You are greeting visitors infront of your charities booth) and they can watch you from the booth.
As for changing areas, it's usually good to have a changing area/break area set up for you when you go to an event. Someplace like a hidden room from public view or even a bathroom (granted that it's not widely used or is an individual bathroom with a lock) are some good places to change in. Bathrooms can be risky, most bathrooms are public bathrooms and a kid can wander right in and see you changing. Some bathroom floors can be dirty and wet, would not be a good start to come out with a dirty suit on. There are other possible area to change, especially in the case of an outdoor event like a parking lot or a pre-set tent organized by the charity/group you are helping out. Changing in a parking lot though can be risky as again, it's in public view and especially a kids view. The best thing to do is to call ahead of time and make sure there is a good changing room set up prior to the event so when you arrive, you can go straight to your changing area and get into character.