Skip to content

Bradford teens hope to fundraise $50,000 for the Helping Hand Food Bank (7 photos)

A Bradford Christmas project to benefit Helping Hand Foodbank

It all began a year ago when Bradford sisters Sarah (16) and Emily Dahlgren (15) started a non-profit project called “A Bradford Christmas”.

The teens wanted to help the local food bank and decided to create extra festive hampers which included specialty items (for dietary needs), festive treats, treats for pets, tortilla chips and salsa, coffee, pickles and jams, and other items not normally provided in the hampers.

“The town and foodbank were so supportive of our idea,” states Emily. “We formed a partnership with the food bank and were given a ‘wish list’ to work from."

The girls were running out of space in their home to organize and put together the hampers, so the town allowed them to work out of the Lions park building where they were able to assemble 167 festive hampers for the food bank last year.

But the teens didn't stop there.

A Bradford Christmas continued to fundraise year-round for the hampers needed at the food bank, including selling butter tarts at the Bradford Farmers' Market, fall décor at Springh Farms on Canal Road, and gift wrarping services at the leisure centre for donations – with 100 percent of the proceeds all going towards the hampers.

“We also raised money at the ‘Christmas Magic’ event at Ad-dictive Design where we sold our fall décor and planters,” remembers Emily, adding that they make handmade wood items, centrepieces, and wreaths.

Sarah has over 1,000 volunteer hours and has helped with several town events including the Santa Clause Parade, Pumpkin Fest, Movies in the Park and Music in the Park. She has also volunteered at the local library (pre-COVID), and helped many businesses such as Sweet B’s Bakery, the Rice Group in Queensville (detailing trucks), the Mission Thrift Store in Newmarket, and has assisted with banquets and coaching with the Bradford Storm and Bradford Bulldogs, and at the Bradford Academy of Dance with their kinder classes.

Recently, the sisters volunteered as bathroom attendants during the BWG Drive-In Outdoor Movies event.

“It may not be glamorous, but we were so excited and honoured [to help] because we haven’t done any volunteer work in months!” exclaims Emily.

Emily is also an entrepreneur and has two businesses she started at age 12. Her first business is “Munchies Concession Stand"  where she sells snacks and beverages at local sport functions, movies in the park and music in the park. Her second business is “groovy scrunchies”, selling hair-scrunchies from upcycled materials. She is the youngest person to ever have a contract with the town through her business.

Last year, Emily won the Junior Citizen of the Year Award which was presented by the late Councillor Gary Baynes, and not surprisingly Sarah also won the same award this year too.

“So many businesses and residents have supported us,” shares Sarah, adding that Sweet B’s Bakery and Ad-dictive Design are big supporters of their fundraisers. “The generosity of this town has been incredible!”

This year, the girls were approached by the town and food bank to see if they could help raise $50,000 towards the Christmas Hamper Program – by Dec.1, 2020.

“Every dollar makes a big difference, especially during this year,” asserts Emily. “The food bank is not getting the same fundraising as last year due to the pandemic, so it’s unlikely they will be allowed to accept food donations… that’s why the money is key."

Last year, the sisters wrote dozens and dozens of letters asking businesses for donations, but this year they plan to get more creative by having an online silent auction.

“We’re looking for donations for items and anything monetary to help towards raising the $50,000” states Sarah. “We’re currently building a website to have the silent auction items sold online and will be selling our signs and décor items as well to help raise money."

The girls are working with town council including Deputy Mayor James Leduc and have already began collecting gift certificates and packages for the silent auction. Many of their fall décor items can be found on Instagram (@abradfordchristmas) with all proceeds going towards A Bradford Christmas hampers.

A youtube video link was created highlighting A Bradford Christmas' work last year.

"We know $50,000 is a lot of money; however, if every community resident in Bradford West Gwillimbury donates $2.00 towards this fundraiser, together we will well surpass the goal!" urges Sarah and Emily. "In return, the families in need are gifted with a week's worth of groceries, a full Christmas dinner, including all the fixings, and Christmas presents under their tree on Christmas morning - this is the true spirit of Christmas!"

For monetary donations or to donate a silent auction item, Sarah and Emily can be contacted by email:  [email protected]