By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express
In a few short weeks, students from throughout Durham will come together in the spirit of giving back to the community.
Their Opportunity will host hundreds of local youth at its annual Dimes 4 Time assembly on March 29.
Their Opportunity president and CEO Randy Gill says the campaign kicked off in January but its been rolling into high gear over the past month.
Dimes 4 Time sees students, staff, and families from 25 school communities across three local school boards engaging in various fundraising activities.
“We go as far east as Campbellford and as far west as Pickering,” Gill says, adding he expects approximately 20,000 participants this year.
Funds raised through Dimes 4 Time support underserviced youth through sports and recreation.
Gill says about one-third of Canadian children cannot take part in sports and recreational activities due to financial barriers. According to him, this figure is likely higher in Durham Region, and its priority neighbourhoods, five of which are in Oshawa.
Children from households with an income of less than $45,000 can access funds from Their Opportunity.
However, Gill estimates about 60 per cent of children they assist live in a household that earns $25,000 or less.
Oshawa youth Jake Moores, then 10 years old, inspired the creation of Dimes 4 Time in 2012.
“If it wasn’t for him we wouldn’t be doing this initiative,” Gill says.
Moores had been setting aside his birthday and Christmas money to help his friends.
Seeking to expand the impact of his efforts, he approached Their Opportunity, and Dimes 4 Time became a reality.
The past six years of fundraising yielded $60,000, with a record $14,000 collected last year.
“It’s gone up a few thousand every year, so this year we have a goal of $15,000 to $16,000,” Gill says.
All children who access funds from Their Opportunity are asked to participate in a ‘giveback’ program where they “pay-it-forward” to other organizations and families throughout the region.
“It’s a really unique and deep program. It shows we are not just giving the kids a handout, but a hand up and getting them engaged,” Gill notes.
At the final assembly, about 700 to 800 students will gather to celebrate the success of Dimes 4 Time.
Joining them are community organizations and special athletic guests. Attending athletes in the past have included former Toronto Maple Leaf Rob Pearson, and Olympians Lori Glazier, and Sam Effah.
“It’s a great group of athletes wanting to help kids learn about physical literacy and generosity,” Gill says. For more information on Their Opportunity or to donate to the Dimes 4 Time campaign, visit theiropportunity.com.