NIAGARA FALLS — Elisabeth Graham couldn’t help but be all smiles last Thursday.
That’s because representatives from the Niagara Falls Tim Hortons restaurants were in the Heartland Forest Nature Centre with 18,800 reasons to smile. The Tim Hortons Smile Cookie campaign raised $18,800 for the Heartland Forest Nature Experience in just one week of sales earlier this year.
Paul Bright, a Niagara Falls Tim Hortons owner, said the total of this year’s campaign, where guests at the restaurant had the opportunity to purchase chocolate chunk Smile Cookies for $1, with all proceeds from the sales supporting the local community, was the most raised to date in Niagara Falls.
“That’s the power of the community,” said Bright. “We’re happy to help out Heartland Forest — they do such great work in out community.”
Bright said they wish to thank their guests who supported the campaign this year — an appreciation Graham, executive director of Heartland Forest also expressed.
“We’re so happy to have been part of this,” she said. “The community has been fantastic to us, and this is what we’re all about here. It’s about community and being a resource for anyone in the community.”
Since opening its doors to the public, that’s what Heartland Forest has aimed to do, said Graham, be inclusive to all ages and all abilities. The property, located at 8215 Heartland Forest Rd., is a natural attraction featuring accessible trails, gardens, carvings, ponds and interpretative areas. The Nature Centre was the latest addition, and Tim Hortons was a major contributor to that project as well, said Graham.
“They are great community partners and we’re thankful for their support,” she said.
What began as a way to fundraise for the Hamilton Children's Hospital in Ontario in 1996, has grown into a major fundraising event across North America. In 2013, the Smile Cookie campaign raised $5 million across Canada and the United States. Nationally, Tim Hortons owners support more than 500 local charities through the campaign.
“We’re proud to support the causes we have over the years,” said Bright. “There are many great places in our community that need support like Heartland Forest.”