We don’t know how Santa arrived to the Christmas Cheer Breakfast this morning, but he should have swapped his reindeer for a supersonic aircraft, courtesy of the fundraiser’s presenting sponsor, Lockheed Martin.
He’d have made excellent time getting to the Shaw Centre, where 650 leaders from business and non-profit organizations started their day socializing over fancy apple cider, hot chocolate and eggnog drinks — as well as mandatory coffee — before sitting down for food and festivities.
Shaw Centre CEO Nina Kressler, Lockheed Martin Canada chief of operations Ray Townsend and Duane Francis from Capital Wealth Partners were among the business and community leaders helping to serve beverages. Also seen at the breakfast was Ottawa’s new police chief, Eric Stubbs, in uniform.
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The breakfast was hosted by CTV News Ottawa anchors Graham Richardson and Patricia Boal, whose bright-coloured Christmas attire caught the eye of everyone in the room, including Ottawa Mayor Mark Sutcliffe.
“Graham, it took a lot of courage to wear that jacket today; I look forward to seeing it on the six o’clock news tonight,” he joked at the podium.
On a sincere note, the mayor thanked attendees for supporting the breakfast and for being part of such a generous community that looks after its most vulnerable citizens. The room heard how one in seven people in Ottawa is affected by food insecurity.
While the Christmas Cheer Breakfast is a popular way in Ottawa to welcome the holiday season, the event is also a significant fundraiser for 22 local charities, many of which assist individuals and families facing hunger and food-security issues. Organizers had been shooting for $100,000 and ended up raising $110,000.
Helping them to exceed their goal was a generous donation made by Lisa Mierins and her brother, Arnie Mierins, co-presidents of the Mierins Family Foundation and of Mercedes-Benz Ottawa Downtown. In honour of their 10 years of sponsoring the Christmas Cheer Breakfast, the Mierins presented a ceremonial cheque for $10,000 before announcing plans to double their gift, making it $20,000.
“We live in such challenging times now, and every day something different is thrown at us,” Arnie said on stage. “If we can help out a little bit and make people’s Christmas and holiday season a little easier, it’s great. We feel blessed and privileged to be able to do so.”
There was also a $10,000 gift from the Kiwanis Club, on top of its donation to the Caring & Sharing Exchange to help with its food hamper program.
One of the many great things about the Christmas Cheer Breakfast is the way it promotes local artistic talent. The crowd heard from OrKidstra and, later, Almonte singer-songwriter Kelly Sloan. She delivered a stunning performance on stage, which saw Event Design work its magic with video wall panels, lights and trees.
Returning this year was the exciting heads or tails game hosted by Matt Skube, also from CTV News Ottawa. The way it works is, participants make a $20 donation to play. Next, they guess which way a flipped coin will land by either putting their hands on either their heads or bums. “On your own (bums), please,” joked Skube.
The coin toss continued until there was only one winner left to claim the prize of a pair of Porter airline tickets, plus a get-away package in Toronto.
The Christmas Cheer Breakfast was organized by a volunteer committee. It was led by retired professional fundraiser Sharon Martin and included Chris Kincaid, who’s also with sponsor Mediaplus Advertising, Elia Villamayor, Kate Wolfe, Josh Verch, Emily Tierney, Tanya Bosman, Thomas O’Keefe, Olivia Taggart, Amanda Ruddy, Roslyn Smith, Sean Downey and Stephanie Downey.