The Gleaner

Leahy Orchards donates $12,000 to employees’ charities of choice

Sarah Rennie

Every year Leahy Orchards hosts a benefit golf tournament in August to raise funds that are largely returned to the community through donations over the following year. This past year, Leahy’s decided that rather than wait for donation requests to come in, they would do something much more innovative. A total of $12,000 was separated into 12 equal shares and set aside for employees to decide where the money would be directed.
“We put it in the hands of the employees,” says Dane Leahy, the sales and business development coordinator for the family-run business. Each month, a name is drawn at random from a pool of the 300 full-time employees and the lucky individual selected is offered the opportunity to donate $1,000 to the charity, organization or group of their choosing. There are, of course, a few parameters, and the company encourages those fortunate enough to be selected to stay as local as possible when making their decision.
A total of $5,000 has been given so far, with cheques going to the Fondation des Gouverneurs de l’espoir, the CVR sports program, La Bouffe Additionelle, A Horse Tale Rescue, and most recently the Refuge Cats Manger. A further $10,000 in proceeds from the golf tournament was also donated to the Barrie Memorial Hospital Foundation.
The decision to include their employees in deciding where donations are made has meant that a number of smaller organizations have been able to benefit from a sizeable donation.


Leahy Orchards separated $12000 in donations into 12 equal shares that employees will be distributing throughout the year to the foundations of their choice Employee Bonnie Taylor opted to give her share in January to the organization Refuge Cats Manger PHOTO Courtesy of Leahy Orchards


“It is the biggest donation we have ever received,” says Wendy Barrett-Stuart, the founder of the Refuge Cats Manger, which is located just outside Huntingdon. “We have used some of it for vet bills already,” she says, adding she is hopeful the remainder of the funds will go toward dental and blood work for a number of cats so they will then be ready for adoption. “We never adopt out as many cats as we take in,” she continues, suggesting that while the rescue is able to benefit from access to rescue rates for sterilization procedures, a donation such as this is very important. “It really matters,” Barrett-Stuart notes, both to the organizations receiving the donations and to the employees who are able to make such a difference.
“We’ve had good feedback from people and it is popular internally as well,” Leahy says, suggesting the company is already planning to repeat the donation campaign next year.
The campaign has also allowed the company to gain a better understanding of “where their employees stand,” Leahy notes, adding that so far they have not had to refuse a donation destination and that they are very happy with the decisions their employees have made.
The contributions also garnered the attention of Farm Credit Canada which gave the company the FCC Customer Spotlight Award, which allowed Leahy’s to give an additional $2,500 to the charity of their choice. The new Student Activity Sponsorship Society (SASS) program at CVR will benefit from the additional injection of funds from the FCC award. “We have a lot of CVR grads working with us here,” says Leahy, explaining the rationale behind the decision to support the local high school. “This will help give the new program a jump start so they can get things moving.

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