Archive for the 'Goodwill' Category

A Get – Give Guide to Charity

So you believe in supporting your community and you want your kids to develop a strong habit of giving. What’s that?… your kids can detect an extra 100 bucks in the budget with subliminal stealth and will blow a hole in their running shoes or loose a filling just to get their fair share. Good, your kids are just like mine – money sponges!

Families without bottomless bank accounts have to get a little creative in their efforts to support charity. We have to give things that don’t cost or better yet, use someone else’s money to make a difference. Lucky for us, there is no shortage of other people’s money to be found and free is only limited by your imagination…

Spend your Points… It seems that every store has a points/reward program of some sort or another. Do your shopping, collect your points and spend them a few times a year on food bank donations. Any house hold with teenagers can practically feed another family with their points!

It’s In You To Give… For the grown-ups in the house, one hour every 56 days can save 3 lives. It costs you nothing, is as easy as getting your car’s oil changed and really is tangible. I used to think only accident victims needed blood, until my friend got cancer, now I really understand the everyday need… and you get a free cookie!

Pass it On… This is one that the vast majority of families do. As our kids out grow life we pass things along. Don’t forget women’s shelters and immigration programs, when you get new house hold items. Somebody setting up from scratch will really appreciate those towels that don’t match your bathroom anymore.

Finders keepers… Your kids are going to protest this one, I promise. Found money is not your money. If you can’t readily identify the victim of loss, stick the funds in the first charity box you find. Yes, everything from nickels to sawbucks go in the box, there are no exceptions. Yes, there may even be tears.

Save Paper… Many schools and churches collect grocery tapes and soup labels which they later submit to the retailer for cash. If your school or church does not do this, find one that does. My Gran used to stuff my mother’s teapot with her tapes for our school. I think she funded the new gymnasium.

Give one free… When you run into that buy one get one free deal… Do it! There is always a home for free. Free socks can go the homeless shelter, free beans can go to the food bank, free $5.00 gift cards for coffee and sandwich shops can be handed to someone looking for a hot meal. Free gas (yes it happens occasionally) can be tucked quietly in the mail box of a family who could use a hand with medical travel expenses.

Win – Win… Roll the rim, scratch to win, peel & play. Win a coffee, a doughnut, a smoothie, a sandwich, some fries? Keep those winning tabs handy in your purse or car to pass along. You’ll know who could use a smile or a hot drink or some nutrition.

It’s about time… The most ‘free’ thing we have to give and very often the most needed is our time. Volunteer, there are no shortages of positions and it is surprisingly easy to volunteer as a family. Special events, festivals and charity events are a short commitment and love family volunteer participation. Choose an event with meaning to your family, it connects everyone to their job.

Cha-ching… That 12 cents you get back from your large coffee everyday adds up to $43.80 over the course of a year. Put the 12 cents in the charity box every day and you’ve made a pretty good donation.

Funny Money… Save those Canadian Tire dollars for the year. In December add it all up and take the family shopping for a toy (or toys – if you your husband has done exceptional collecting) Deliver to the local toy drive.

Cash in… Taking the empties back to the beer store? Stick the proceeds into the charity box. Remember liquor bottles are refundable too. Some of us have an opportunity to make a significant impact!

Spread the word… Don’t kid yourself, people are listening. If you hear about an event or charity that needs support, pass it on. Maybe you can’t fund a project but you can get the information to someone who is able. News travels fast, be part of the good rumour mill.

When you start looking, free opportunities to do good are everywhere! If you need help identifying them, ask your money sponges. They can smell and opportunity just as well as $100!

What ways have you found to make a daily difference with your family?

You can also find Michelle at her blog The Space Between Raindrops, sharing wisdom, gratitude and humour.

Kindness Week


Best Tools for Schools is excited that this is Kindness Week.  Candace is on the Steering Committee and Laurie is on the Education committee.  Rebecca is blogging during the week as well on the Kindness Week website.  Kindness Week focuses on ways people can be kind in our community, and encourages these acts to last year round.  There are events happening across the city, or citizens are encouraged to come up with their own kindness activity.

As you know, Best Tools for Schools is very involved in giving to our community.  Last year, we donated many school supply kits across the city and were happy to help kick off a new school fundraising program for the Snowsuit Fund.

We are proud to run an annual initiative with our family of schools who hold fundraising events in support of the Snowsuit Fund of Ottawa during the month of November.  With the help and generosity of our amazing schools our campaign raised almost two thousand dollars in the first year alone.  Both cash donations and donations of used snowsuits go directly back into our community, to children who are the classmates and playmates of our children.  

                                                                   From the Snowsuit Fund Website

Best Tools for Schools is excited to be a part of Kindness Week again this year and look forward to hearing about kind activities happening in our wonderful city. 

How are you being kind?

Best Tools for Schools and the United Way Give Back

On October 7, Candace and Laurie, owners of Best Tools for Schools, participated in the United Way Ottawa’s Community Action Day.

Together with volunteers from Accenture, United Way Loaned Volunteers and Surgenor, 400 kits were filled with school supplies and delivered to schools and students in need in Ottawa. 

Even though the school year had begun, many students still were struggling to have the tools they need in school.  Candace recalls that “a couple of staff members at one school actually cried tears of joy which in turn made us cry tears of joy.  It was sweet. Our volunteers loved seeing the gratitude on the recipients’ faces at the various schools. “

Candace and Laurie expressed their great appreciation and thanks to all of the volunteers and for local Real Estate Agent Paul Rushforth who not only contributed his moving truck to help haul supplies around, but also made a generous donation that ensured more kits could be delivered.

Thank you to everyone involved.

You can find out how to be a part of the United Way’s Community Action Days in various ways by visiting the United Way Ottawa website.

Small gestures, big outcomes

Sometimes the smallest of gestures can roll into a huge ball of kindness.  One less-fortunate school learned this recently.

It all started with a meeting.  Best Tools for Schools met with Harmony Public School to discuss the program.  Reluctantly, the Principal, Ms. Herr, had to turn down the opportunity to offer BTFS kits because most of the school’s parents simply can’t afford to buy school supplies. The school relies heavily on donations.

Laurie and Candace want to help ensure that all students get the supplies they need, so they helped form a partnership between Harmony Public School and a Toronto private school.  Parents at the private school can purchase donated kits that will go directly to their ‘adopted’ school.

That was only the beginning.

An article in on July 26 highlighted this partnership and the work Best Tools for Schools was doing to ensure students are assisted when in need.  The article was distributed on Twitter by Daryll Koster of Buster Rhinos.  He challenged other Durham-area businesses to donate as well.  He then donated 4 kits himself.

Elfie Hayes of Mortgage Intelligence in the meantime, after seeing the article, contributed 5 junior and 5 senior kits to the school.  In a small school, Daryll and Elfie’s contributions meant nearly 10% of the students were fully stocked with supplies, plus the additional 12 that the Toronto school had already contributed.

Small gestures.  Unexpected and welcomed acts of kindness multiplied in the matter of a day. 

Best Tools for Schools would like to thank everyone who is supporting schools in great need of supplies.  If you are interested in contributing to help schools and parents get supplies to students in the Ottawa are, you can contribute to the Supplies for Smaller Scholars Program.

In the Community: Best Tools for Schools and CAYFO

We are always happy to share with you some of the exciting projects we contribute to in our community.  We think it’s important as business owners, and moms, to give back when we can.

Partnering as the school supplier for Child and Youth Friendly Ottawa’s Tools4School program couldn’t have been a better fit.

From their website:

CAYFO’s Tools4School program collects the much-needed supplies for school-aged children in the Ottawa community through donations, community wide supply drives, strong partnerships and corporate challenges. Since 2000, CAYFO has given out over 16,000 backpacks to children and youth in need. While we are proud of our success in the past and our ability to provide for those in need, we strive to greatly increase these numbers in the future.

Last year, Tools4School received almost five-thousand requests for school supplies and was able to fill over 60% of these requests. In light of the recent change to the Ontario education system with full-day  kindergarten and the onset of HST taxation, the Ottawa community anticipates that there will be an even greater demand for school supplies than ever before. That being the case, this year it is our goal to fill at least 75% of the total number of requests that the program receives and we cannot do this without the help and support of Ottawa area sponsors.

Best Tools for Schools is happy to work with CAYFO to provide the school supplies that so many children in Ottawa need this year. 

For more information, visit the CAYFO website.

We will also be at the launch of the 2010 campaign at the United Way today (Tuesday, July 13th).  We hope to see you there.

Donate a Kit, help a child in need

We understand how stressful back to school shopping can be.  Not only are there school supply lists to shop for (which is why we started Best Tools for Schools), but new clothes, new shoes and backpacks to buy.  All of this makes for a stressful, and expensive time of year.

Unfortunately, too many children in our school systems simply can’t afford to purchase all of these items. 

We want to help.

That’s why we created our Supplies for Smaller Scholars Program.  Individuals and businesses can donate kits to kids in need simply by purchasing one or more on our website.

Kits are delivered to schools (in towns BTFS services) for September and school principals determine which children at their school are most in need.

We’ve been donating kits since the beginning of Best Tools for Schools.  Our philosophy is that in order for our children to succeed, other children need to as well.

Best Tools for Schools wants to give all children the best start with the best supplies.

Interested in donating a kit?  Here are the simple step-by-step instructions (or proceed online and follow the prompts):

  1. Visit our website at
  2. In the ‘Enter your 5 digit code’ box type one of the following:
    1. 00001 for a Junior Kit
    2. 00002 for a Senior Kit
    3. Click ‘Find’
    4. Click ‘Buy the Kit’
    5. Enter the following:
      1. For ‘First Name’: Donation
      2. For ‘Last Name’: Kit
      3. Select ‘Buy the Kit’
      4. At the check out, you can purchase more donated kits, or simply click ‘proceed to checkout’.  You will then be taken to Paypal for payment.

For businesses who would like to donate more than 10 kits please contact us at 1-866-980-1133.

We can’t thank you enough for helping us make the school day a little bit easier for many students.

The Season of Giving…

This is the time of year we naturally turn our thoughts to helping those in need.  It is a time of great hope and the spirit of giving is strong.  That is why we’d like to tell you about a great Canadian organization, CanadaHelps.

Canada Helps is the only charity that promotes and secures online donations for more than 85,000 charities across Canada.  They are currently running their 1st Annual Contest – The Great Canadian Giving Challenge .

So here’s the challenge.  Set up a Giving Page and raise funds for the registered Canadian charity of your choice using social media tools like Twitter and Facebook.  In addition to all the donations generated for the charities, Canada Helps is offering an additional $15,000 in prizes for charities. Prizes will be given for two categories: the GivingPages that raise the most funds and those that attract the most donors. Besides experiencing ‘warm fuzzies’ for helping out a charity, CanadaHelps enters every GivingPage owner into a draw for an iPod Shuffle every week.  The contest closes on December 20, 2009 at 12 noon ET. So get your Santa hat on and help those that need it most this time of year.

If you’d like to find out more, please visit the Giving Challenge.

Earning your business in the community….

Paul Rushforth is a successful Ottawa realtor with heart.  When a local OPP officer was critically hurt in the line of duty, Paul was one of the first to rally the troops to help his young family with basic needs.  He also auctioned off his own Ottawa Senators tickets ( a hot commodity in Ottawa) to help raise funds for the family.

Paul also joined forces with us for our United Way Community Day of Action.  Without blinking he provided binders and pencils boxes for 15o local kids in need AND loaned us his truck to transport all the goodies to the United Way head office.

Paul’s business is very successful and he doesn’t need to contribute for the “press”.  He contributes because he has heart and we like that.

If you’re looking for great advice on real estate, check out Paul’s blog Realty Bites.  And when it’s time to buy or sell we hope you’ll consider Paul.

Our way is the United Way….

Philanthropy has been part of our business plan from the very beginning.  So we were delighted when United Way Ottawa approached us and asked if we’d be interested in sponsoring one of four Community Day of Action.  Keeping in line with our belief that all kids should have the proper tools to succeed we jumped at the opportunity.

On September 30 we pulled into the United Way Head Office with enough supplies for 150 local kids.  United Way provided volunteers from the RCMP and the DND.  By the end of the day there were some very happy kids in Ottawa.  We are inspired to do even more next year by partnering with like-minded business people who want to help. Let us know if you’d like to join us.

Assembling boxes

Assembling boxes

Packing Kits

Packing Kits

Two of our lovely volunteers

Two of our lovely volunteers

Junior Kits ready to go

Junior Kits ready to go

Paul Rushforth loaned us his truck to get the supplies to United Way!

Paul Rushforth loaned us his truck to get the supplies to United Way!

We love Irving!

When we were seeking out a supplier for our facial tissue, Irving Tissue, makers of Royale facial tissue were the easy choice. First, they’re Canadian and we’re partial to Canadians.  Second, they have a great product and provided us with exceptional customer service.  Finally, they have a strong commitment to the environment and we LOVE that.  With children of our own we take comfort in knowing that Irving Tissue has :

  1. planted over 770 million trees throughout 50 years of award-winning responsible forest management
  2. Irving is partnering with Tree Canada to sponsor a community support and education program.  The new TREES BY THE SHORE program is a coast-to-coast initiative to plant over 35,000 trees in 2009 to help preserve shoreline habitat.

For more information you can click here and here. We hope you’ll throw your support behind this great company not just at back to school with our kits but all year round.  We do!

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Candace also blogs for
the Yummy Mummy Club!