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Choosing a Charity, Christie Lake Kids, and the #CardelCaresOtt Event

To catch up and find out why I had $1,000 to donate to a charity, click here.

How to Choose a Charity?

As I was driving back from the #CardelCaresOtt event, I was chatting with my friend Andrea: which charity should I select … one I already support or a different one? should it be local or international? helping animals or humans? a large charity with great needs and name recognition or a smaller charity that finds it hard to secure donations? 

Discussing things with Andrea is always satisfying. She is smart, opinionated, and has a big heart. Although I spent most of my evening debating the merits of a variety choices, I really came to the decision in the car with her. We had debated a number of criteria for how to narrow down the selection, but we had also talked about choosing a charity that is meaningful to me, and to my family.

Where we choose to spend our free time and vacation dollars is a pretty good indication of what is meaningful to a family. Here are photos from some of our family vacations:


See the common thread? Whether it’s hiking, swimming, canoeing, or fishing … we spend our free time in nature. While these days we rarely “tent camp” and instead use our pop-up trailer, we are nevertheless leaving the pavement of our suburb behind and spending time sitting in forests. It’s peaceful. And it’s grounding.

For the average middle-income family, camping is considered an inexpensive way to vacation. So it might be easy to assume that anyone can go camping.

But consider this: what if your parents are working multiple jobs and don’t get vacations? What if someone in your family is chronically ill and needs to be close to medical care at all times? And how can you leave the city to go camping if you can’t afford a car? 

I Chose Christie Lake Kids

These questions were foremost in my mind when I chose Christie Lake Kids as the charity that would receive the $1,000 I won at the #CardelCaresOtt event.


“Christie Lake Camp has been in operation since 1922, making it one of the oldest summer camps in Ontario. On the surface, our program resembles that of many other camps. Children learn swimming, canoeing, camp craft, ecology (“nature lore”), and art. They play sports and games, go hiking, and set out on overnight and extended canoe trips. The difference is that the Christie Lake program is specifically designed to meet the needs of children living in poverty.

All the campers come from families living in poverty. The experience of growing up without much money can mean many different things. However, research and experience have consistently proven that poverty puts Canadian kids at risk in dozens of ways. For instance, our kids are more likely have experienced abuse, more likely to have learning difficulties, more likely to have behavioural and/or emotional disorders, more likely to live in an unsafe neighbourhood, and more likely to get involved in criminal activity.”

The $1,000 that Christie Lake Kids will receive from Cardel Foundations will be able to send at least one child to camp for a full week and create countless memories. According to this charity’s website, “Many kids arrive at camp afraid to fail. Many arrive with poor social skills. Some have few clothes to bring. Some are loaded down with worries about problems at home.” But by the end of the program, these same children have accomplished things they never though possible.

I was interested to learn from the Christie Lake Kids website that they have extended their programming from the central Camp to “Inner City Programs,” one of which is the STAR program. This is an after-school program for children ages 6-17 that operates in social housing areas in Ottawa. Clearly, Christie Lake Kids is making a big difference in the lives of so many children — right here in our community.

YOU can help too!

Christie Lake has a “wish list” of needs. If you are able to donate anything from the list below, it would be greatly appreciated (and I will recognize you here on this post).

Inner City
  • 50 New Swimming Caps
  • 300 new Water Bottles
  • Arts Supplies
  • Grocery Store Gift Cards
  • LCD projector and projection screen
  • New grass cutting tractor mower
  • Help preserving the camp totem pole when it is replaced
  • New Industrial Dishwasher for the dining hall
  • Laundry Facility  (4 washers 5 dryers, commercial grade)
  • 12 new canoes
  • New or very lightly used sturdy wooden shelves for camper library
  • Multipurpose/ utility vehicle
  • New Decks at Belle Island
  • Tooth Brushes
  • Soap
  • Sunscreen
  • Children’s Bug Spray
  • New Sleeping Bags
  • Dress up costumes and props for adults and children


  • Marriam Kinny for approaching her kids’ swim club for the 50 swimming caps for Christie Lake Kids
  • The Nepean Kanata Barracudas for donating 50 swimming caps (awesome!!)



  1. Such a great choice for charity, Julie! Love it! All kids love summer camp, and for kids whose family cannot afford to send them, this could make such a huge difference in their lives. All kids deserve some fun time away from the city, out in nature, and by a lake. That’s what a Canadian summer is all about!

  2. It’s always hard to choose since so many groups and organizations need help. It looks like you made an excellent choice 😀

  3. Great choice, I love the idea of their camp. It’s amazing how bug spray and SPF can be such a need, it’s something I don’t blink on buying – but it’s different when you have so many children to buy for. I hope you win!

  4. Summer camp is such an invaluable experience for kids. Awesome choice! It will change lives, for sure.

  5. Great choice in charity, I love their idea and support what they do a %100!

  6. The people at the charity said it’s enough to send a kid to camp for a whole week with some left over!

  7. Thank you so much for choosing Christie Lake Kids Julie. We are so grateful to have such amazing community members like yourself, and community minded organizations like Cardel Homes who are great supporters of our wonderful organization.


  1. […] staged a scavenger hunt for those of us at the event, and the winner (blogger Julie Harrison of Coffee With Julie) got $1000 to donate to the charity of her […]

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