Smile Cookie campaign an ‘incredible’ success for youth center


Over $62,000 raised in record local campaign; Community support is ‘incredibly rewarding,’ says Orillia Youth Center official

The Orillia Youth Center received a record donation from local Tim Hortons franchises following the famous coffee chain’s annual Smile Cookie campaign.

Orillia, Severn and Oro-Medonte Tim Hortons raised more than $62,000 with the help of customers during the September 19-25 campaign.

The donation is the largest to come from the local cookie campaign to date, which sees 100% of proceeds from its Smile Cookies donated to a local charity on an annual basis.

Tim Hortons also broke national records this year, raising more than $15 million for more than 600 charities across the country, bringing its grand total to $92 million raised since the campaign began in 1996.

Tim Hortons officials presented a check to the Orillia Youth Center Tuesday morning.

Local franchisee Jenn Adams said the youth center was selected for the work it does to support young people at a time when mental health supports and recreational opportunities are harder to come by and more important than ever.

“It’s just a safe haven for young people, and there’s been a lack in our community for that,” Adams said. “There was definitely a problem with the youngsters, with their mental (health)… so we decided that would be something to pay attention to with our Smile Cookies this year.”

Youth center director Kevin Gangloff said the funding will go a long way to supporting its programming.

“It’s just incredibly gratifying, the community support around this year’s campaign,” Gangloff said. “Everything we offer at the youth center is 100% free for young people. Being open seven days a week and offering programming releases…this money allows those opportunities to be open and removes that barrier, so that all young people can be involved on a daily basis.

The Orillia Youth Center provides a gathering space for young people, as well as a variety of programs and outings – from cooking programs to downhill skiing – for area youth with a wide range of needs.

“It can be an educational cooking program tonight, going to the movies tomorrow night, providing food (for) young people who may not be eating healthier, regular diets,” Gangloff said. “The money is amazing. This will go a long way in supporting the work we do.

In 2019, its last full year of programming, Gangloff said the youth center received 16,000 visitors.

The funding will help the center’s programming continue to thrive, he said.

“Any night there can be five youngsters here for 35 to 40 youngsters,” he said. “That’s what’s so great about a transitional space like a youth center where young people can come and go as they please – most of our outings and activities that we do, we have sign-up lists, and 99.9% of them have waiting lists because they fill up every night.

“The space is occupied and it’s being used, which is nice to see.”


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