Making wishes come true, making communities stronger

Our stores are more than places to buy lottery tickets, a drink or a snack.
Anne Kothawala
President & CEO, CICC
Anna Kothawala
Anne Kothawala high fives Michela during the Make A Wish reveal at a Parkland On the Run store
Michael and Anne Kothawala during the Make A Wish presentation at Parkland's On the Run.
Anne Kothawala high fives Michela during the Make A Wish reveal at a Parkland On the Run store
Michael and Anne Kothawala during the Make A Wish presentation at Parkland's On the Run.

Where community and convenience come together. That’s not only CICC’s tag line but a phrase that truly describes the integral role the convenience industry plays in supporting Canadian communities.

Our stores are more than places to buy lottery tickets, a drink or a snack. Whether it’s supporting a local sports team, acting as the local discussion hub or being a part of a daily routine, convenience stores are embedded into the local social fabric—a role that Canadians have come to expect.

According to a public opinion poll released last September by IPSOS, 73% of Canadians believe it is important that c-stores give back to the communities they serve.

As the national association representing the convenience industry, CICC embraces that expectation and partners with Make-A-Wish Canada to raise funds for critically ill children during National Convenience Week.

What started out as a small, Atlantic Canada-based event at two stores 12 years ago, has now grown into the largest fundraising event in the convenience industry. This past year, we had the largest number of stores participate—3,155—while raising a record $213,000, bringing the total in fundraising to more than $810,000 for Make-A-Wish Canada.

Our goal for 2023 is to push the overall total to over $1 million and engage more than 150 politicians across Canada by visiting a store in their own communities.

All of CICC’s vendor partners that sell age-appropriate products will be asked to join the industry in supporting Make-a-Wish as one of their preferred charities.

There is a natural connection between Make-a-Wish and the convenience industry. Critically ill children often miss out on one of the first rites of passage—visiting their local convenience store to buy snacks and treats. And the local convenience store is all about supporting families and their children. That’s why CICC consciously chose Make-A-Wish Canada as our partner so that we could help make wishes come true.

On December 5th in Burlington, we hosted a wish reveal at a Parkland On the Run store for Michela, whose dream is to visit Florida’s Disney World.

Michela was joined by her parents, grandparents and her two sisters for this surprise wish reveal. Diagnosed with Leukemia four years ago, Michela underwent 27 months of cancer treatment. Our wish granting coincided with her being out of chemotherapy for two years.

While she was clearly overwhelmed with the surprise, there was no mistaking her joy and excitement to have her wish to go to Disney come true. There is perhaps no better feeling than playing a small part in making wishes come true for children like Michela, and their families.

The impact on families like Michela’s is significant. Their whole life is consumed by treatments and hope and prayers that the critically ill child will get better. To hear firsthand from Michela’s Mom, Tara, the trying journey the family went through, but the hope that Make-a-Wish offered, brought home just how important the money we raise is. It makes a huge difference.

Tara shared with us Michela and her sisters’ favourite treats. We had a number of our vendor partners contribute products so that CICC could make treat-filled baskets for the kids. They were pretty excited about those as well!

When we reach over a million dollars raised next year, that will be over one hundred children that the convenience industry will have helped grant wishes to. Our industry should be incredibly proud of the difference we are collective making in the lives of critically ill children and their families.

We have big plans for 2023 and we can’t wait to share more with you next year. In the meantime, we will all be thinking of Michela and her family on January 1st when she meets her favourite princess, Belle, and enjoys the magic of Disney.

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