Keep Kids Warm, an annual campaign to help keep local children dressed warmly throughout the winter, is well underway. With a room full of snowsuits and other winter wear, Barb Sills, Matron for the Prince Edward OPP detachment explained a bit about the program, the fundraising backbone on which it thrives and how inflation could be affecting the efforts of the campaign.
Sills has been on the board for Keep Kids Warm for 23 years, while the program itself has been running for approximately 30 years.
As she explained, a pool of funds is raised in Belleville, Centre Hastings, Marmora, the County and Stirling-Rawdon, with funds being distributed in those areas to ensure no child goes without winter apparel.
“We join our funds together because we’re a non-profit,” said Sills. “Some areas don’t have enough, so we put our funds together and make sure every child in every area goes home with a snowsuit, a pair of boots, and some mittens.”
With inflation affecting prices from the gas station to the grocery store, Sills noted the number of families who registered with Keep Kids Warm is higher this year than most, as more families struggle to cover the cost of necessities.
“Our numbers are up this year. I think we’re at 106 this year, so we’re up about 30 families who registered in the County. Belleville alone has registered 1,000 families this year…everybody’s numbers are up,” Sills commented. “The price of everything is going up. It’s affecting families, as has been widely publicized…families are struggling.”
While Keep Kids Warm has been in operation for decades, it’s the community members who donate to families in need that keep this program up and running.
“We’re a non-profit. We rely on donations,” said Sills. “Jamie Yeo, Owner of Foodland, does fundraising in his store.”
Yeo, who was present with Sills, noted the OPP drop a box of paper mittens off at his store each year. Each cashier is equipped with a box of said mittens and customers are given the opportunity to donate to this fundraiser by purchasing a pair of paper mittens.
“The OPP drop off a box of mittens-paper mittens-and cashiers have a box of them at their till. They ask customers if they want to purchase a mitten to help buy the clothes the kids need,” explained Yeo.
Yeo added that, this year, 1049 mittens were sold totalling $2,114 in donations.
“It’s all customer driven. They’re doing all the giving…we’re just collecting. We’ve been involved about 10 years,” he said.
When asked how donations this year compared with other years, Yeo admitted that while the number of donations was still high, there were fewer than previous years.
“I think the most we sold was $2,200 or $2,300. We might be a little less, but over $2,000 is still pretty good,” said Yeo. “People had more money to give last year, whereas this year things are a little tighter.”
Sills explained that this year, for the first time, registration was done online. As with other years, families are asked to register in the last couple weeks of September. Once registration is complete, volunteers go shopping.
“Our hospital auxiliary make the knitted goods,” she added. “They do a beautiful job.”
Generous contributions to the Keep Kids Warm Campaign were made by Jamie Yeo of Foodland, Picton, Art Wiersma, Fred Lang and Jeffery Howell from Bay of Quinte Mutual Insurance Co. as well as the following donors:
- David Hepburn, Max Mee and David MacKay from Many Happy Returns
- Wellington Dukes Fans and Supporters
- Ladies from the Hospital Auxiliary
- The Quilter’s Guild
- Mrs. Hatch
- Catherine Huff
For more information about this campaign, please visit: https://www.keepkidswarm.ca/