Kingston Tim Hortons to support youth mental health with Smile Cookies

A familiar favourite for many, the Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaign will continue fundraising for local hospitals, but this year, funds raised here in Kingston will go towards child and youth mental health programming as opposed to the NICU. Kingstonist file photo.

Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaign will take place early next month when the iconic chocolate chunk cookies — topped with a smile — will be available at every participating Kingston Tim Hortons for $1.50.

While the cost of the cookies has increased this year, 100 per cent of the campaign proceeds will be directed to Kingston Health Sciences Centre’s (KHSC) Child & Youth Mental Health Program through the University Hospitals Kingston Foundation (UHKF). Smile Cookie week will take place from May 1 to 7, 2023.

“After many wonderful and successful years of supporting the NICU we felt that we had an opportunity to bring awareness to other critical areas of care within KHSC,” said Leanne O’Mara, a local Tim Hortons owner. “Since the pandemic, the mental well-being of youth has really come to the forefront as an area where we could help. We are thrilled to support the important work that Kingston Health Sciences is doing to support children and youth.” 

According to a press release from UHKF, the funds raised through the Smile Cookie campaign will help provide patient supplies, therapeutic resources, activities, and other programs to assist vulnerable patients.

The organization noted that children and youth are at a critical stage in their development; losing social connections like attending school regularly, or in-person activities such as youth groups, clubs, and sports (as they did during the pandemic) can have a huge impact on their social skills and mental health. Donors help facilitate the exceptional care these children, youth, and their families need, campaign organizers expressed.

“Prior to the pandemic child and youth mental health needs were on the rise and the pandemic has only increased the need for mental health support in our community. We are now seeing more referrals in our outpatient programs due to an increase in anxiety and depression and our inpatient unit continues to see more children admitted with behavioural challenges,” said Nicholas Axas, Program Operational Director for Mental Health and Addiction Care at KHSC.

“To hear that Tim Hortons has decided to make children’s mental health services at KHSC the focus of this year’s Smile Cookie campaign makes me so proud to be part of this community. This campaign will go a long way in helping those in need, who often face stigmatization due to a mental health or addiction diagnosis.”

Last year, the Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaign in Kingston raised a record-breaking $192,945.82 for the local neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at KHSC.

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