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Among Friends Launches (Posted On: Monday, June 25, 2007)

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New local charities group reminds community that charity begins at home. A group of seven community charities are launching an awareness-raising campaign this month reminding Georgian Triangle residents of the need to donate locally to ensure that health and social services in the region are sufficiently funded.

"A large percentage of the area’s charitable dollars go to big city and national charitable organizations, while local groups struggle to maintain services vital to our immediate community," says Jory Pritchard-Kerr of the General & Marine Hospital Foundation and co-founder of the new "Among Friends" fundraising initiative. "This campaign is designed to remind community members that along with the big national charities they donate to, there are local ones, that may have a more personal impact on their lives, crying out for support."

The "Among Friends" campaign launches June 22nd with the message that charity begins at home contained in billboards, magazine and newspaper ads. Group representatives will also speak at various club meetings and events in an attempt to ensure the message is delivered as broadly as possible.

The "Among Friends" banner includes seven local member charities who have met a set criteria: Collingwood General & Marine Hospital Foundation; My Friend’s House; Hospice Georgian Triangle; Big Brothers, Big Sisters of the Georgian Triangle; Front Line Collingwood Foundation; Breaking Down Barriers Independent Living Centre; and E3 Community Living.

The concept is the brainchild of Pritchard-Kerr and Joan A. Pajunen, chair of My Friend’s House. "The issue hit me when a neighbour who has lived in the area now for three years told me he still supports a women’s shelter back in Toronto," says Pajunen. "This came the same week My Friend’s House finalized a budget that required them to raise $150,000 just to keep providing current services to local women and children."

All of the "Among Friends" member groups are registered charities working in the human social and health services area with services available to all in the Georgian Triangle. Each charity has an office located within the region and meets a requirement that ensures funds raised go to providing direct services to the community.

The initial fundraising focus will be aimed at memorial giving with brochures in Georgian Triangle funeral homes that explain the "Among Friends" concept and highlight the seven member charities. "In the pain of their loss, many families forget the local heroes who helped their loved one and choose, out of a lack of knowledge, to direct local residents to credit a large national charity with memorial gifts instead," says Pritchard-Kerr. "Our member charities all accept and benefit from memorial donations." The group has also launched a website (www.oooamongfriends.ca) with direct links to each member charity to make giving more convenient.

Meridian Credit Union played a key role in this advocacy campaign. As part of Meridian’s "Good Neighbour Program", the company provided a substantial grant to the "Among Friends" group to assist in funding the development and printing of marketing materials and sponsored the launch reception.

"Keeping our donations close to home reaches out a helping hand to good work that preserves the goodwill, heart and people of our community," says Pritchard-Kerr. "It’s something from which we will all benefit."

For more information contact:
Jory Pritchard-Kerr at 705-444-8645
Joan A. Pajunen at 705-445-6487
www.oooamongfriends.ca

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