By Tiffany Williams
The Ponoka Tim Hortons store will be sending two deserving youths to a Tim Hortons camp during the summer. The proceeds of Tim Hortons Camp Day on June 4 will help send those children go to St. George, Ontario Tim Hortons camp. The entire coffee proceeds from the 24-hour period and other fundraising efforts will go to the Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation. In 2008 over 13,000 children who could not otherwise afford it will attend the foundations camp for 2007 Camp Day raised over $8.3 million.
New owner of the Ponoka store, Bob Podritske with his wife Carol, say that it will be a fun and exciting day. They are planning on having local dignitaries behind the counter serving up coffee.
He says it will be a family day with helium balloons, face painting and games for the kids. Ponoka is already showing the Camp Day spirit a little early by buying more than $550 worth of camp tents around the store.
“Let’s see if we can get everyone in town to buy a coffee. Buy a stranger behind you in the drive thru line or a neigbour a coffee especially for Camp Day when it is all for the kids,” said Podritske.
Podritske officially took over ownership on March 24. He grew up in Ponoka and family members on both sides helped to found Ponoka. His great-grandfather on his mother’s side was a pioneer who homesteaded in Ponoka. His great-grandfather on his dad’s side was in Ponoka over 100 years ago. He graduated from Ponoka Composite High School and feels this is a homecoming for him.
“It’s such a nice friendly town. We, my wife and I, like to get involved in the community. We feel that Tim Hortons hasn’t been involved and we are working daily to change that and camp day is a great way to start,” he said.
He was a district manager of the Vancouver Island stores for nine years and has been in the restaurant business for more than 30 years. He says he has seen the effects the camp has had on those children who have had the opportunity to attend.
“I’ve seen the impact it has had on kids over the years and it is phenomenal. You can really see it in their eyes. They learn so much in 10 days. They meet children from all over the country and they get to experience things they would never get a chance to,” said Podritske. “We purposely send them farther to get a better experience. The weather is different, the clock is different, they get to go on a plane and they have a great time.”
Camp day became a chain-wide fundraiser in 1991 and the tradition started in Atlantic Canada in 1986 when storeowners rallied to raise enough money to build the Tatamagouche camp in Nova Scotia. The Tim Hortons Children’s Foundation was established in 1974 by Ron Joyce, co-founder of the Tim Hortons chain and in honour of Tim Hortons love of children and a desire to help those less fortunate.