For the first time since it was formed in 2018, the Orillia chapter of Ripple of Kindness has been able to make significant donations to two organizations at the same time.
The group announced Tuesday it would be donating more than $20,000 to both the Orillia Youth Centre and The Sharing Place Food Centre.
That was made possible because Ripple of Kindness, made up of women in the community, has passed the 200-member mark. Each member contributes $200 twice a year and they vote on a recipient. The organization will now present four donations per year.
Amber McGarvey-Moreland, who co-founded the local chapter with Raquel Ness, had the honour of calling the latest recipients with the good news.
“Making these phone calls is like sharing with someone they’ve won the lottery,” she said. “There’s such a sense of gratitude and they’re excited to share it with their team members.”
Exciting is one way to put it. “Amazing” is another, according to Chris Peacock, executive director of The Sharing Place.
“It shows that these individuals believe in our organization and the youth centre — two wonderful organizations that mean a lot to our community,” he said. “It’s a wonderful gesture of support and one we are so grateful for.”
The money will go toward a commercial kitchen at the Dufferin Street facility, allowing for the creation of ready-made meals for clients and programming to inspire vulnerable members of the community to create healthy meals. The kitchen will also allow The Sharing Place to expand its Meals-4-Change program to 1,000 meals weekly.
“This (donation) will help significantly with getting that project over the finish line,” Peacock said, describing Ripple of Kindness as “the definition of collective giving.”
“They’ve made such a lasting impact in our community in a relatively short amount of time,” he added.
The kitchen project, as well as associated construction and accessibility upgrades, is expected to cost about $400,000. Another $100,000 still needs to be raised.
More information about The Sharing Place and how to donate can be found here.
The donation to the Orillia Youth Centre came at an appropriate time — during National Youth Week.
“It’s such a nice shock,” said youth centre director Kevin Gangloff. “It’s an amazing feeling to be awarded that money.”
All of the money will be used to directly support youth in the community, and the youth centre has been busy on that front, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. With the help of volunteers and donors, meals and other needed items have been delivered to youth.
“The dollars, at any time, are always welcome, but there is more need to support and be able to reach out further,” he said.
He thanked Ripple of Kindness members and praised the concept of the group.
“To rally people who want to give has such a huge impact on organizations like ours,” Gangloff said. “What a really unique way to do it. I’m very grateful.”
McGarvey-Moreland described the two recipients as “invaluable organizations in our community.”
“They’ve been doing a superior job of doing outreach during the pandemic,” she said.
The latest round of donations brings the total giving from members of the local chapter to $123,000.
“We just want to thank our community for believing in this initiative,” she said.