Originally published in the Woolwich Observer

By Liz Bevan

This year’s iteration of the Elmira Maple Syrup Festival reached its denouement last week with the distribution of proceeds to a variety of community groups.

Some $50,000 was divvied up as recipients and volunteers gathered June 9 in Elmira.

Each year’s proceeds depends on the success of festival day – good weather brings the people out, while the inclement kind keeps ‘em home – but the EMSF committee also donated more than $1.5 million in its 50-year history.

Women’s Crisis Services of Waterloo Region was just one of the recipients, and Kourtney Beckman, the group’s fund development manager, was on hand to share what the money means to the abused women and children in the region.

“This is wonderful. We don’t ever expect a donation, but it is a wonderful thing,” she shared. “The Women’s Crisis Services is the only shelter of its kind in Waterloo Region. We are the shelter for women and children, and we are building a bigger shelter, unfortunately. Abuse is a big problem, and our region is growing so much, and as that grows, so does the problem of abuse. Every day we have between 70 and 75 people staying with us in the shelter, and half of those are children. The only way we can keep our doors open is through this kind of support, so thank you.”

Christina Proctor attended and accepted a check on behalf of Strong Start – a school program helping kids with literacy issues. The money given to the organization will benefit students right in Woolwich Township.

“In Woolwich specifically, we are running our programs at every school in the township. We train volunteers to go into schools and spend time one-on-one with children just to give them that literary boost. It is all fun and activity games, so right now, we are serving over 100 children with 50 volunteers. We are also helping about 20 preschoolers get that strong start in school and in life,” she said. “This will go directly to the children in our community to learn how to read, so thank you.”

Festival chair Drew McGovern had a few words to say about the donations.

“For those that don’t know, we don’t put the festival on to make money,” he told the crowd. “We have community groups like the Scouts and the Guides who rely on this money and fundraising, so we are more than happy to hand it out. Luckily for the last few years, we have made a bit of money. Even though the festival is a one-day deal, it takes 26 people to put that on and leading up to it, there is a lot of work, and a lot of planning and somehow we seem to manage it every year.”

For now, maple syrup lovers will have to wait until Apr. 1, 2017 for next year’s festival.

For a full list of donation recipients, visit the festival website at www.elmiramaplesyrup.com.