Since 2016, the local KidSport program has received a helping hand thanks to the generous contributions of local businesses and organizations through the KidSport playhouse fundraiser.
This fundraiser helps raise money each year through the sale of raffle tickets, with the winner receiving a 100-square-foot playhouse, built by high school students and possible through the donations of local businesses who sponsor the project. All money raised goes to the local KidSport chapter, which helps youth participate in organized sports when they are otherwise financially unable to.
From day one, this fundraiser saw much success, raising $10,580 in the first year. In 2017, a total of $7,769 was raised, 2018 with $13,173 and 2019 saw $12,432 come in through the playhouse raffle. In total, $43,954 has gone towards helping local children participate in organized sports. That success continued up until last year when due to the COVID pandemic, the fundraiser was unable to take place.
This incredible feat is what earned the Martensville A&W, owned by Brian, Bernice and Rachelle Buffin, the title of ‘Community Champion’.
There are over 1000 A&W locations across Canada, and this year a total of 12 of these awards were presented among these locations.
“This award recognizes small acts of kindness as well as exceptional acts of service. Both have the power to make a difference in their communities and positively impact the lives of the people within them. The Community Champion award recipient engages in activities that make their community a vibrant and rewarding place to live, work and play,” A&W Regional Manager Chris Hurley stated during the virtual presentation for the award.
Milva Nieves, A&W Canada Business Manager continued to state that, Brian, Bernice and Rachelle are “an inspiration” and spoke about the passion that the family has for this project. “You made a difference for KidSport and those families that cannot afford to enroll their kids in organized sports,” Nieves continued.
Rachelle Buffin then commented about how important community involvement is for them. “This is something that we hold very close to our hearts.” Buffin also noted that if there are other locations interested in doing something similar, they would be happy to help provide direction.
When this idea first came to be, it stemmed from a conversation that took place between Brian Buffin and Angie Reddekopp, President of the local KidSport Association, back in 2015.
At this time, Reddekopp sat down with Buffin to explain what KidSport was all about, and that there was a real need for this support in the region, as many families were unable to afford to put their children in organized sports.
Buffin took this information and asked some of the employees working within his restaurant if they had ever heard of KidSport and was astonished when all three of them informed him that they had applied for support through it but had been denied because there was not enough money within the KidSport fund.
Hearing this information is what ignited something within Buffin and it didn’t take long for him to reach out in the community to other businesses. “I have never had a problem getting support for this project and without the sponsors, this wouldn’t be possible,” Buffin noted.
That first year, it began with Anthony Nienhuis at Martensville Building and Home Supply, who offered to provide the building materials. From there, Buffin contacted David Fossum, the Industrial Arts teacher at Martensville High School, who turned this fundraiser into a project for his class. Next, Brad’s Towing came on board to help move the playhouse from the high school into the A&W parking lot to be displayed. Then, Clark’s Crossing Gazette in Warman offered to provide signage and marketing for the project.
Since the beginning, the Martensville and District Lions Club have been a driving force in ensuring the success of this fundraiser, putting in countless hours selling tickets and helping to promote it within the area. Buffin took a moment to acknowledge how much effort this organization has dedicated to this project, noting that they have been a massive part of making the fundraiser as successful as it has been throughout the years.
Reddekopp stated that in the past five years, the number of applications and funds provided within the community have doubled. “With this raffle taking place, it has helped to increase the awareness of the program in the community, so that has brought in more applications, but also, the community is growing and there is a higher need for it. The KidSport playhouse raffle is the biggest fundraiser that we have, and last year, when it didn’t take place due to the pandemic, we saw an impact. We weren’t able to fund people as much as we had in the past.”
For Reddekopp, this fundraiser brings a sense of relief, knowing now that there is a team of local businesses along with the Martensville & District Lions Club helping to support KidSport. “It is amazing to know that we have a strong, well-established and well-received fundraiser in place that is going to help with the majority of support needed to fund the kids in the community. We have seen the people in the community really get behind this fundraiser, and we have been able to help so many kids because of it.”
According to Reddekopp, over the past five years, well over 200 kids have been funded, thanks to the money raised through this fundraiser. “This project has been such a huge part of KidSport in our community. Our local A&W was the driving force that got the ball rolling, and helped make it grow, and created these amazing partnerships. I was ecstatic to hear about the award they received and it goes to show that something can start small and grow into this nationally awarded event. It is a passion for Brian, Bernice and Rachelle, and you can tell that they hold it close to their hearts,” Reddekopp added.
This year, things are going to be done a little differently, as the playhouse that was intended for 2020, was unfinished due to the COVID pandemic. Brian Buffin then decided to contact a friend of his who is also a skilled carpenter, Marty Goertzen, who agreed to complete the project. Local realtor Richard Reimer is also a sponsor of the project this year, and has offered to cover costs of the project, which include building materials.
The playhouse will be moved to the Martensville A&W later this month, with tickets available around that same time. The raffle draw will be made later in the year.
“Not only is it support from the sponsors that make this possible, but the people in Martensville and the surrounding areas are the ones who purchase tickets. We couldn’t do this without them and they have been supporting us right from the start,” Brian Buffin stated.