A memorial fundraiser honouring a Tim Hortons employee in Bracebridge known for his kindness, James “Sunshine” Hopcraft, has had its goalposts moved several times.

The memorial began in June as a small group chat of Hopcraft’s friends and colleagues raising money to dedicate a bench to his memory. Since then, it’s expanded into a Facebook group of more than 350 members, filled with people whose lives Hopcraft touched in his time at Tim Horton’s.

Photo supplied by: Kari Greene

“He was such a humble guy,” says Kari Greene, a colleague and friend of Hopcraft’s who organized the memorial. “I don’t think he realized the impact he had in peoples’ lives.”

To date, the effort has raised more than $4,000.

“The main goal was ‘let’s get a bench to honour him,’ and then ‘if we get further than the bench, let’s get a tree as well,’ if we get further, let’s do this canoe idea,” says Greene. “Amazingly, we surpassed all of our goals.”

The tree, a sugar maple, will be installed alongside the bench in Bracebridge’s Annie Williams Memorial Park in the spring. A canoe, christened “The Hopcraft” and bearing the motto “be someone’s sunshine,” has already been purchased. It will be donated to the non-profit Friends of Algonquin Park to help youth learn to paddle, alongside a cash donation of any remaining funds.

Greene says she’s “beyond grateful” for Algonquin Outfitters’ support of the memorial efforts. The business heavily discounted the cost of the canoe, designed and applied decals for the vessel free of charge, and provided coupons for free kayak rentals to incentivize people to donate. Any coupons that were declined by donors will be donated to local youth organizations, according to Greene.

Algonquin Outfitters owner Rich Swift [right] and marketing director Randy Mitson [left] applying decals to “The Hopcraft” (Supplied by Kari Greene)

She says Hopcraft would be in tears if he could see the impact he’s had.

“It’s such a huge ripple effect, just from where we started, and the way that everybody just came together, the way these local businesses really supported us; it’s massive, the impact that James got to have,” says Greene. “There’s something that the community as a whole seems to be feeling as well, and that’s the idea of being someone’s sunshine. It’s basically the idea of ‘do what James would do.’ Be kind to strangers. Make someone smile.”