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Tree of Hope campaign surpasses goal despite pandemic

Family and Children’s Services of Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (FCSFLA) were surprised by the outpouring of support for their Tree of Hope campaign this year. The 2020 Holiday Appeal has reached a hundred-year milestone despite the COVID-19 Pandemic.

This campaign is Southeastern Ontario’s oldest holiday appeal, and, as of Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2020, the Tree of Hope is reporting it has raised $150,000 – more than twice the monetary goal from last year, according to a release from FCSFLA on the same date.

“When we started, we had no idea we’d get this kind of result. We’re so grateful for the community support we received,” says John Suart, Manager of Community Relations. “With this success we will be able to help these same kids all-year round.”

Due to COVID-19, for the first time in a hundred years the Tree of Hope did not collect toys but instead issued gift cards to families. It also purchased and delivered special items like beds and baby gear and bought winter clothing for more than 100 children, according to the release. When the Tree of Hope kicked off on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020,the monetary goal was $50,000, but was quickly raised to $60,000 due to increased need.

Suart says they kept on spending because of the increasing needs of children, youth and families due to the pandemic. “We spent more and more, exceeding our budgets, because of the needs of the kids we serve. We just hoped that we would be able to raise the money to cover it all and we did, and then some.”

The 2020 Tree of Hope helped almost 750 kids, including 30 babies. Overall, the age of recipients was noticeably younger than last year, according to the release. Those under the age of eight represented more than 50 percent of all referrals, compared to 40 percent in 2019. FCSFLA says just over half of all kids served lived in Kingston, and of those outside Kingston, one in four was from Napanee.

According to the release, the money not spent on the campaign will fund support programs year-round including purchasing beds and bedding, baby cribs and strollers, clothing, children & youth sports and recreation and more. The bulk will go to the Agency’s Summer Camp program which sends some of the same children helped by the Tree of Hope to camp come July. As well, for the first time, Tree of Hope funding will support the Agency’s START program, which provides in-school, in-class tutors to help kids with their education, according to the release. START finished its two-year pilot project last year with great success.

The Tree of Hope was supported by more than 2,500 donors, including individuals, organizations, churches, businesses and foundations. The Title Sponsor was Van Herpt Motors. The Presenting Sponsor was Rapport Credit Union. The campaign was run by a team of a dozen staff members from various departments which started their planning last June.

Donations to the Tree of Hope campaign will be accepted until the end of January. Donate at the campaign’s website – www.HelpTreeofHope.ca

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