Kingston sets new record with Smile Cookie campaign for local NICU

Local Tim Hortons restaurant owners, those with University Hospitals Kingston Foundation, representatives from Kingston Health Sciences Centre, and families supported by the local NICU gathered on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022, to announce a record-breaking fundraising result from the 2022 Smile Cookie campaign. Photo by Peter McKenty/Kingstonist.

If the brilliant sunny skies in late October on the waterfront weren’t enough to make one group of Kingstonians smile today, then the record-breaking fundraising results of a campaign they hold dear certainly was.

Gathered at Newland’s Pavilion in Macdonald Memorial Park, alongside Murney Tower, a group of people with one goal in mind were all smiles on Thursday, Oct. 27, 2022. Specifically, the group was made up of those with the local Tim Hortons restaurant locations, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC), the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF) the Kingston General Hospital (KGH) Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and those whose lives have been touched – or even saved – by the local NICU.

And it didn’t take long to find out why. The group came together for a big announcement – one bigger than they’d ever made before. That’s because the significant milestone made public was one of fundraising over $190,000 for KHSC’s NICU at KGH. In September 2022, through the Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaign, the Kingston community raised a record $192,945.82 for the NICU, where approximately 400 of the 2,000+ babies delivered at KGH annually are given the specialized medical care they need, according to Dr. Bob Connelly, Medical Program Director for Pediatrics at KHSC and neonatologist.

“This campaign has been an incredible boost to our neonatal program at KHSC,” Dr. Connelly said.

“It’s been an incredible fundraiser, raising over a million dollars over the number of years that it’s been in place. And that’s allowed us to buy very specialized equipment for the care of these very fragile newborns that we have in our care.”

Indeed, since the campaign began locally 19 years ago, well over $1 million has been raised through it, with campaigns annually raising more funds than the year before. Last year, the campaign raised $156,806, and in 2022, Kingstonians and the local Tim Hortons locations and their owners raised over $36,000 more than that.

“Kingstonians love Smile Cookies and helping those in need,” Connelly expressed. “Our smallest patients in the NICU need very specialized equipment and this gift will help ensure all babies in our care have the best possible start in life. On behalf of the team in the NICU, I want to thank everyone who helps make this event so successful year after year!”

This year’s Smile Cookie campaign ran from September 19 to 25, with proceeds from the well-known chocolate chip cookies with blue icing eyes and pink icing smiles going to the local neonatal program, which can help newborn infants with health concerns for anywhere from an hour or two, to a number of months, Dr. Connelly said.

“It has been a huge boost to our team to know that the community is behind our program,” he shared, “And it’s been fantastic that we’re able to buy the equipment we need so that we can give the care that these babies require, close to home.”

Annually, across Canada, the Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaign helps communities raise funds for community organizations and groups selected by participating Tim Hortons restaurant owners. This year, another record was broken, as $15 million was raised in support of community needs across the country.

“From the Tim Hortons staff working hard behind the scenes, to the volunteers who help put the smiles on the cookies, to the Kingston community who purchase Smile Cookies, we can’t thank you enough for your support,” said Leanne O’Mara, a local Tim Hortons Restaurant owner.

“This year’s support is extraordinary! Thank you!”

With files from Peter McKenty.

Those on hand for the Smile Cookie campaign fundraiser results announcement quietly express their gratitude for the community’s support of the campaign, as Ashley Montroy of the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation speaks to the importance of the campaign for the local NICU. Photo by Peter McKenty/Kingstonist.

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