The Place and Old Dutch lend a hand to young athletes

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

The Place Fine Foods has turned a recent win for their business into a win for youth in Fort Frances.

The Place was recently chosen as a winner in a long-running charity effort held by Old Dutch Foods Ltd. As part of this program, participating stores earn points for specific sales targets. Once those targets have been reached, the store receives an entry into a draw. Then, each year, entries are drawn from the pot and the winners receive a donation from the company to donate towards a charity of their choice.

This year, the Place Fine Foods was selected as one of the winners, along with Beaver Mills Market in Rainy River. As part of the program, owner Trevor Fitzgerald selected KidSport Fort Frances as the beneficiary of the charity donation. However, he and his family also decided they could do more.

“Old Dutch have a program where our loyal customers come in, they buy Old Dutch products, we get points, and after an accumulation of points, they announce winners across Canada,” Fitzgerald explained.

“Our store was lucky enough to win, and what it means is they make a $2,500 donation to a charity of our choice. My wife and I own the business, and we chose KidSport. We also chose to match it with a matching $2,500, and that;s why there’s a total of $5,000 going to KidSport.”

As parents to four children, Fitzgerald said that it’s been important to have their kids in sports, and supporting KidSport means that more kids who might not otherwise have the means to participate get to take part as well.

“All our kids are active, and it’s just so important now for kids to stay active,” he said.

“And they learn about teamwork and hard work and that kind of thing. We really believe in that, first of all, and then KidSport will provide grants for kids to pay for registration or the equipment costs, which are so much these days, especially for kids in financial need, so they can play sports.”

Fitzgerald said he and his wife personally know families and young athletes who have benefitted from KidSport Fort Frances’ work, and he also noted that because the organization is volunteer run, it means all of the donations they receive stay in the community and go to where they are most needed.

“All the money stays in the Fort Frances catchment,” he said.

“Every single dollar we’re giving stays right here in Fort Frances for Fort Frances youth, and that was important for us too.”

Kelly Pierce, who serves as the territory manager for Old Dutch Foods for the Fort Frances area, among others, explained some of the finer details of the charity program, noting the company has 250 Fine Food stores participating in the program across Canada. Each year, only 20 stores are chosen to receive the $2,500 donation to their choice of charity. Since the program has been running, Old Dutch Foods has donated $253,000 through the winning Fine Food stores to Canadian charity efforts. He praised The Place for always being willing to participate in the program and support local charities.

“From my distributor’s standpoint, this is one of his best stores,” Pierce said.

“This store supports the charity of choice. They’ve been phenomenal. The Store has a new owner now, but he’s been right on board with them and it’s been a great place to do business with.”

Fitzgerald said he’s grateful to be chosen as one of the winners of Old Dutch Foods’ charity program, and credits his staff for helping keep the business in top shape.

“I’ve got a wonderful staff,” he said.

“We bought the store January 16 from the Sanders family, we kept everybody and it’s just an awesome staff, and loyal customers. We’re able to be a successful company because only a successful company can give back and contribute to the community, and that’s what we intend to do.”