The Rotary Club of Guelph might not be able to host fundraising events during the pandemic, but that isn't stopping it from finding new ways to support local businesses and charities.
The club has kicked off its Christmas in the Bag initiative where it's selling a bag filled with items from local businesses at cost. This way, it aims to help essential charities in the community while also supporting local businesses. It also makes for a lovely Christmas gift.
“The bag is fantastic. It’s beautiful. It’s basically like you can treat yourself,” said Eleni Bakopoulos, the member of The Rotary Club of Guelph who spearheaded the initiative. “There’s a mix of different things.”
Food items in the bag include yuletide blend coffee from Planet Bean, whiskey mustard and barbecue sauce from Chef Scotty Cooks, fondue chocolate from Chocolats Favoris, moonshine from Dixon Spirits and olive oil and balsamic vinegar from The Olive Experience.
Proceeds from the bag go to Food4Kids, Guelph-Wellington Women in Crisis, Hope House, KidsAbility, The Grand River Conservation Authority, and the Integrated Youth Services Network.
Seeing that it's not just restaurants that are struggling, Bakopoulos went beyond the culinary world and contacted local businesses
Bakopoulos included a coupon book in the bag which includes deals from 25 local businesses including spas, yoga, bookstores, and clothing boutiques that are offering discounts from 15 to 35 per cent.
Bakopoulos and her two sisters wrote their first cookbook, Three Sisters Around the Greek Table over a decade ago. Their second cookbook, Three Sisters Back to the Beginning, a coffee table recipe book which includes timeless greek recipes is also included in the bag.
“We really need to look around and we really need to be supportive of one another so we get through this,” said Bakopoulos.
She said as an artist and an author, she understands what it means to run a small business and then to have a pandemic hit.
“The instability that it causes for you and your family, for me that's where it comes from. I think all of us are suffering with COVID and the impact of COVID but those who get to keep their jobs, those who are in stable positions, I don’t think they understand the other level that other people are experiencing,” said Bakopoulos.
Bakopoulos said the businesses don't pay anything to participate in the initiative and the cost is carried by The Rotary Club of Guelph and The Downtown Guelph Business Association who pitched in to help out with the printing of the coupon booklets.
“It was a really good feel-good project where we could all come together, we could all try to make a difference for our Guelph Community,” said Bakopoulos.
“And the lovely thing about it is that it's all volunteers that are going to pitch in and deliver these things and help out. It feels fantastic to know that it all goes to charities after.”
The goal of the initiative is to raise $50,000.
The bag can be purchased at the Rotary Club of Guelph website. Community members have up until Dec. 12 to purchase a bag, priced at $100.
On Dec. 12, the team will host a drive-by pick up at the KidsAbility Centre between 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. so community members can pick up their bags.
“We’ll drop the bags off in your trunk,” said Bakopoulos.
She said the team is hoping businesses and corporations get behind them to place multiple orders which will be directly delivered to their businesses.