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Sweet reward for community

The members of Elmira Maple Syrup Festival committee were at St. James Lutheran Church last week to hand out the proceeds from this year’s event. Members are Katharine Unrau, Melanie McNeil, Barb Wilkie, Christine Clarke, Kim Dixon, Rose Rabidoux, Annie Crump, Jessica Bauer, Dawn Uliana, Dave Unrau, Rod Hoddle, Lavern Brubacher, Drew McGovern, Dan Haines, Vince Sowa, Greg Bedard, Clarence Martin, Quentin Mayer, Scott Billing, Ken Jessop, Amy Olson, David Boehm, Matt Jessop, Doug McLean, Cheryl Peterson and Karen Weber. [Faisal Ali / The Observer]

The Elmira Maple Syrup Festival is known for its massive crowds, its colourful spectacles and, of course, the sweet nectar that gives it its name. But the event also ought to be known for the support that it gives to the many organizations and community groups working to the betterment of the community.

This year, a total of $45,000 was distributed from the proceeds of the festival to almost 30 organizations. At a ceremony May 17 at St. James Church in Elmira, members of the festival committee, local politicians and representatives from the numerous beneficiaries of the festival’s grants were out to celebrate the 2018 event.

True, the number was down slightly from last year’s $55,000 and 2016’s $50,000, but given the inclement weather, festival organizers are counting this year’s event as a success all the same.

“Given how cold it was, the festival committee was very pleased with the results and with the proceeds. We work very hard to keep costs down so that we can have more money for community organization,” said Kim Dixon, chair of the festival committee.

Amongst the many recipients were groups like the Elmira District Community Living, which received a prearranged 40 per cent, or $18,000, of the proceeds, and the Elmira Theatre Company, the Maple Syrup Museum, Woolwich Wave swim team and Woman’s Crisis Services Waterloo Region.

New this year was Katharina Richter, who runs a weekly ministry for the homeless in the Kitchener area. Working with a restaurant, Richter has been providing those in need with the necessities, including food, clothing items and hygiene products.

Several parent councils for a number of the school in the area also receive support from the festival, including those at John Mahood, Riverside and St. Teresa of Avila in Elmira.

Besides raising some significant cash for the local organizations, the festival committee was also able to attract the interest of a number of new volunteers, Dixon adds.

“We’re quite excited because we have a number of new volunteers who joined us this year,” she said. Joining the group for next year’s festival were several students from the local colleges. “So it’s very exciting to see the mix of the young blood with the seasoned at the table.”

Certainly, the festival could not be possible without the support of its approximately 2,000 volunteers, as well as its many sponsors. The festival committee is completely volunteer-based and aims to give back to the community. The event is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest single-day maple syrup festival in the world.

With the event now behind them, the focus is already on next year’s festivities, already scheduled for April 6, 2019.

The 29 recipients of the festival proceeds are: Elmira District Community Living, 1st Elmira Scout Group, Community Care Concepts, Woolwich Community Services, Elmira Theatre Company, Kiwanis Transit, Friends of Guiding, Woman’s Crisis Services Waterloo Region, Maple Syrup Museum, Woolwich Counselling Services, Child Witness Centre, YWCA of KW, Region of Waterloo Library, Street Ministering Hot Dog People, Woolwich Sledge Hockey, Pride Stables – CODRP, SkateABLE, Riverside Public School Parent Council, John Mahood Public School Parent Council, Strong Start Charitable Organization, Youth Outdoors Day, Woolwich Sun Ray Special Hockey Club, Transition Guelph – Urban Sugaring Project, Park Manor Public School, Independent Living Centre of Waterloo Region, Woolwich Wave Swim Team, Elmira Community Nursery School, St. Teresa School Council, KidsAbility Centre for Child Development.


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