Last Friday, the Open Air Pub (OAP) management team donated $15,000 to the President’s Choice Children’s Charity (PCCC), a national organization dedicated to helping disadvantaged kids across Canada. The cheque, composed entirely of profits from OAP Lite this past spring, was presented to Loblaw Companies Limited Senior Vice-President Roch Pilon and Provigo du Parc Store Manager Eric Robillard.
Run entirely by student volunteers from the Faculty of Engineering and organized by the Engineering Undergraduate Society (EUS), OAP is held every year in Three Bares Park at the start of September and again for two days in late April under the moniker OAP Lite.
The money raised from last year’s OAP Lite further fortifies the existing relationship between EUS, Provigo, and President’s Choice. According to OAP Head Manager Michael Mizrahi, Provigo began sponsoring the event in 2002, and now supplies food, condiments, napkins, charcoal, as well as a freezer truck for storage.
Mizrahi said the profits from OAP Lite have always been donated to charity. Before 2009, profits went to Centraide, an independent philanthropic organization. Mizrahi explained that OAP decided to shift from Centraide to the PCCC in order to strengthen its relationship with Provigo.
“That decision was what has allowed [OAP] to break revenue records the past few years and grow larger than we could have imagined five years ago,” Mizrahi said. “Provigo has been able to sponsor us to a much larger effect, and in return, we’ve been able to raise much more money for the EUS in the fall and for charity in April.”
Founded in 1989, the PCCC focuses on giving aid to children with disabilities, as well as improving childhood nutrition. The PCCC financially supports other similar organizations such as Breakfast for Learning, which educates and empowers communities to deliver school-based nutrition programs.
All PCCC funds are raised regionally and managed nationally, ensuring that all provinces get a share. Pilon emphasized that Loblaw Companies Limited also assumes all administrative costs, allowing 100 per cent of all contributions received by the PCCC to go towards the charity’s projects and programs.
“Since 2004, [the PCCC] has [given] $10 million to Quebec, and helped over 1,700 families,” Pilon said. “Your entire dollar goes to [children in need] … that’s the beauty of our charity.”
Provigo and President’s Choice representatives were thrilled about the donation.
“I was really impressed tonight,” Pilon said. “Fifteen thousand dollars is not peanuts … it’s going to help a whole bunch of kids.”
Students reacted to the presentation of the cheque with a mixture of surprise and approval.
“I didn’t know that [OAP Lite profits] went to charity,” Will Caron, U3 anatomy and cell biology, said. “I think it’s great.”
“It’s exciting to have been a part of that, and I think that it was a very generous donation,” Kristen Bailey, U2 psychology, said.
Both Mizrahi and Pilon emphasized the importance of creating and maintaining strong, reciprocal relationships between the university and local businesses.
“At the end of the day, you always have to give back to your community,” Pilon said. “Offering a discount [to students] is not enough to show a good partnership … so we participate in [initiatives] like [OAP].”
While no new projects have been planned for the future, the involved parties expressed enthusiasm and commitment towards building on their relationship.
In the future, Mizrahi said that the organizations will be working together again in the spring, with profits from OAP Lite also going to the PCCC.
“I think there’s huge potential for what we could do here,” Robillard said. “We feel like we’re a team, and next year … it’s going to be even bigger.”