A holiday fundraising raffle is underway to support local families and kids who are dealing with financial hardship.

From now until December 12, the Children’s Foundation of Muskoka will be selling tickets for its largest-ever fundraiser – which will look to compensate for the funding shortfalls the organization has been dealt during the pandemic.

Executive Director Dave Lyons says the raffle is in response to the cancellation of CFM’s annual fundraising gala in November – which would have been in its 20th year. 

He says there are around 1,500 families in Muskoka that have a household income of below $30,000. 

“Basically, that means 1 in 6 kids in Muskoka are living in poverty,” Lyons said. “When you add to that, almost half the jobs in Muskoka are part-time and seasonal. So, that really makes job certainty – and by extension housing, food, and all those other things really uncertain.” 

Lyons says while he initially viewed the pandemic as an equalizer for all from a financial and social perspective, it’s been more difficult on kids who are living in poverty. 

He feels kids who live in poverty have a much harder time accessing needs because of financial barriers. 

“They are socially isolated, they have more stress and they have poorer physical and mental health,” Lyons said. “When you add the overlay of the COVID-restrictions and stresses that have come with work being up or down or not necessarily secure – it’s a tough go. So, we’re working hard to ensure that we can fill the gaps that are out there.”

In addition to all this, Lyons says COVID-19 has meant some basic needs and opportunities for kids in Muskoka are simply out of reach. 

That’s why CFM is hoping to raise around $5,000 through the fundraiser to help kids gain access to activities they otherwise couldn’t. 

“Playing hockey, dance lessons, art lessons, music lessons, those kinds of things – it kind of puts them at risk,” Lyons said. “We’re firm believers at the Children’s Foundation that no kid should ever be excluded from participation in any activity – or lack access for fundamental needs, because of financial barriers.” 

1,750 tickets are available in the raffle and around 22 businesses and individuals have donated some great prizes – which Lyons says may help you with Christmas shopping of your own while also helping kids in need. 

Check out the CFM website to view the prizes and for more details on how to enter the raffle.