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Spring brings “fresh, new excitement” for Caledon Community Services

April 7, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By ROB PAUL

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

With the holiday season behind us, Caledon Community Services has been overwhelmed with the support and generosity this year from local residents.

Both their marquee holiday events—Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) and the Home for the Holidays Gala—were hits despite the pandemic leading to some changes this year.

Due to the pandemic, the registration fees were waved for CNOY this year, but COVID-19 didn’t slow people down from supporting their neighbours in these trying times by getting out for a COVID-safe walk in support of people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger.

Caledon’s CNOY 2021 had 21 teams with 124 walkers and raised over $44,000—easily surpassing the original goal of $26,000.

While the Home for the Holidays Gala had to go virtual this year for the first time, it was still able to raise $124,364—close to 50 per cent of the live gala’s fundraising in recent years.

Proceeds from the fundraising event directly support programs, services, and activities in Caledon that feed the hungry, ensure senior independence, help people find sustainable employment, assist businesses grow healthy workforces, provide transportation, encourage and train youth, welcome newcomers, and lift the self-esteem of hundreds of children by providing tangible supports including organized recreational and camp opportunities. 

“We were blown away as an agency by the level of community support for both our gala—it was our first time ever as a virtual gala and it went really well—and our Coldest Night of the Year. It exceeded the first goal and then the goal was increased, and it exceeded that again. It was phenomenal. People just wanted to do stuff to help others in their community. It’s all so heartwarming,” said CCS Director of Communications Donna Cragg.

CCS also runs their EVOLVE Stores in Bolton, where proceeds help fund community programs and services and as they open—the stores are located at 109 Industrial Road and 4 Industrial Road – Cragg wants to remind people that EVOLVE is a great and convenient way to help those in need whether donating or shopping.

“The spring is really kind of a fresh new exciting time for us,” she said. “Certainly, the things we have on the horizon—we just opened both of our thrift stores and 100 per cent of the net proceeds from those stores go back into the community programs and services. For spring, people that are doing their spring cleaning, if they can think of our local places to donate that would be phenomenal. They’ve got great deal and it’s a very easy way to make a significant difference.”

Now that the spring has arrived, CCS has seen a growth in need with more families than ever reaching out for the support CCS is able to provide thanks to community residents and businesses.

Cragg says she is hopeful people will continue to donate to the Exchange—a nutritious food and community program run by CCS, located at 55 Healey Road in Bolton.

“The Exchange is collecting—it’s normally this time of the year that things start to go low in the food pantry because we’re starting to run out of the generosity that was experienced over the holiday season—that’s ongoing,” she said.

Gardens are a beloved part of enjoying the outdoors during the spring and summer and another easy way to give back to the community is by thinking of the Exchange when planting a garden.

“If anybody is starting [to think] of planting a garden and they want to do a row of fresh veggies for the Exchange, they’re in dire need of that stuff year-round. We don’t like to just give the traditional boxed goods or dried goods products when people come into the Exchange; we have prepared foods and fresh foods that we like to have available for them also. Right now, they’re still getting hampers prepared for them with pickup times because we’re not clear of COVID yet, but even those hampers [are not] all the same, they’re customized to the families because we know our clients well enough.”

On June 19, CCS will be holding their annual Velocity Bike Ride for Seniors with a virtual spin on it—registration fees will be waived this year— and they’ve set a goal of raising $50,000.

“Another thing we’re doing for all the cyclists that are hitting the roads right now, we have another event that people are starting to gear up for,” she said. “[For] the Velocity cycle ride in support of Caledon seniors, spring is a time where cyclists flood the roads and it’s such a great sport. This will be the fourth year, but the third event because it was cancelled last year. This year we’ll be holding it virtually, so people will do their ride safely within their own family group or individually and they’ll compile a bunch of finish line photos for a virtual event to celebrate the final outcome of the event.”

Cragg says the CCS is always welcome to new volunteers and volunteering is yet another way for Caledon residents to give back. 

“Watching for volunteer opportunities as they start of open up is another vital way to help,” she said. “Our volunteers have been sorely missed and we look forward to welcoming them back and to new faces as public health safety guidelines permit.”



         

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