BY SHANNON DUFF
LISTOWEL – Saturday, Nov. 29 is a day the Burley family will never forget.
Family members, friends and staff of Zehrs in Listowel gathered at the local grocery store as store manager Jim Swartzentruber presented the family with a $20,000 grant from President’s Choice Children’s Charity to provide a new van and lift for their disabled son, Jacob.
“It’s such a great Christmas present,” Karen Burley, Jacob’s mother, said. “We appreciate all those people who opened their purses and wallets — know it isn’t wasted.”
Jacob, 12, has cerebral palsy, global developmental delay, cortical visual impairment and epilepsy.
Karen urged people to continue to give where they can.
“There’s so many other families waiting for this opportunity,” she said. “We thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
The van not only provides Jacob with easier mobility, but arrived in the nick of time as the family’s previous vehicle was on its last leg.
“It broke down multiple times and we were stranded,” Karen said.
Following the presentation, Zehrs team members hosted a small ceremony indoors with cake, refreshments and speeches. Many in attendance were moved to the point of tears while listening to the impact the van has made.
“This is very emotional for all of us,” said Swartzentruber. “We’ve put a lot of effort into the community to raise funds for PC Children’s Charity. This is an example. It’s awesome. Thank you to the staff, thank you to our customers for donating to Jacob.”
Paul Maines, a pastor at Crossroads Community Church in Harriston, attended the presentation and also expressed his thanks on behalf of the Burley family.
“I’ve had the chance to kind of walk with these folks through life, and I’ll tell you what, this is an outstanding family whose lives have been forever changed. I can’t think of a better family to receive this tremendous donation.”
Swartzentruber explained the funds were raised through the generous support of customers during in-store campaigns, direct employee contributions, raffles and barbecues.
“It’s wonderful to be able to help a child reach their full potential,” he said. “We are so proud to partner with President’s Choice Children’s Charity and to help children right here in our own community.”
One hundred per cent of funds raised by the charity in Ontario go directly toward supporting Ontario families whose children have physical or developmental disabilities, as well as nutrition programs aimed at fighting childhood hunger. In 2013, the charity granted almost $6.1 million to 984 families and 1,100 nutrition programs, which feed over 216,390 children in Ontario. Since 1989, the charity has awarded $100 million, supporting more than 1.8 million children across Canada.