By Emily Stonehouse
Christmas is a time for giving, a time for kindness, a time for gratitude.
And Lyndsie Fliss understands that wholeheartedly. Fliss and her family recently received $1000 from Chaulk as a part of their Christmas for Kids giveaway. The giveaway included grocery store, gas, and Visa gift cards, as well as some extra special goodies for each family.
“My family has been through quite a bit this past year,” Fliss shared. “It’s been a year of pivoting, and we’ve had to lean on the community whenever we could.”
Fliss moved to Haliburton County in the summer of 2021 with her partner, Jay, and their young daughter, Skylar, who has cerebral palsy. Skylar’s disability was one of the main reasons Fliss felt that the move to the country was in the cards. “We were so tired of city living,” she said, “and I became really worried about safety for Skylar there. But now, she is just treated like such a beautiful human being up here.”
Jay was offered a position at Camp Wanakita that summer, and the family jumped at the opportunity. The move gave Fliss the chance to get Skylar prepared for her first years in kindergarten in the new community, and new forms of connection that the family had never experienced in the city.
As they began to make their mark in Haliburton County, Fliss began to have a series of health issues that piled up. At one point, she was kept in the hospital for over 20 days at a time, while Skylar navigated her early days at school, and Jay was between jobs.
While Fliss is still in recovery mode from a particularly scary year, she believes that the kindness of the community is what’s kept her and her family afloat. “We would have never felt this kind of love and support if we weren’t living in a small town,” she said.
Originally hailing from the Hamilton region, this is the first year that the family will not be returning home for Christmas, based on complications in Fliss’s recovery. So it was a breath of fresh air when they found out they were recipients of the Christmas for Kids giveaway. “As much as families try to hold it together this time of year, try to create that magic for their kids, it can get dark,” she said. “But feeling that atmosphere of joy as soon as we walked into Chaulk, wow, it was just so fantastic.”
Trevor Chaulk developed the giveaway two years ago, with one bundle of $1000. “We wanted to give back to the families in this community who needed a hand,” he said. Since then, the project has grown from one prize of $1000, to five bundles, totalling $5000, and supporting five different local families.
The concept of the contest was based on community references. Meaning that Chaulk did not seek out families, rather, individual families were nominated from folks in the community. “We had a lot of nominations come in this year,” he said, “and people would be nominated without their knowledge, so it would be a surprise if they won. Kind of like a Secret Santa.”
Some of the criteria for the contest were factors such as being permanent residents in the county, and a family with children under the age of 18 living in the home. “As a local family run business, we know the last couple of years have been extra difficult and stressful,” read the contest post on social media, “If you know a deserving, hardworking family who could use a little extra help this holiday season, please tell us their story.”
Chaulk noted that when he and his family first started their own company, there were times they needed to access the local food bank, “and we never forget those roots,” he said.
He credits the community as a whole as a primary reason that a contest like this can be run with such success. “When a call goes out for help in this area, this area is excited and eager to help out,” he said. “It’s all about helping your neighbour out.”
And Fliss echoed Chaulk’s sentiment. “We have not been in a place this past year to support our community financially,” she said, “but showing up in the ways we can, with kindness and support, those are our riches right now.”
Fliss shared that by winning the giveaway, it has given her and her family the opportunity to purchase gifts for Skylar for the holidays, as well as stock their fridge and pantry for the season. “This has given us a safety net to move forward from a challenging year,” she said, “and their kindness will allow us to pay it forward. We are forever grateful.”