Introducing the Secret Samaritan

By Mike Baker

It’s amazing how often a simple idea or a small gesture can snowball into something truly special.

We saw a great example of this right here in Haliburton just before the holidays, when eight-year-old Oliver Williams decided to donate a $5 bill he found on the ground to the local food bank. Within days his story had swept across the nation. Dozens of people were inspired to give back to their community.

Thousands upon thousands of dollars were given to many different charitable organizations. Haliburton’s 4Cs food bank benefitted to the tune of $8,400. All of that from one boy’s kind, selfless donation.

As I look to our community, there are many continuing to struggle with the effects and implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. We have all had to live with it, and endure it for almost a year now. With no end in sight, there’s one particular community I wanted to shine a light on – our local business owners.

While some businesses have thrived since the onset of the pandemic 11 months ago, even more have struggled. For the most part, the people who run your favourite downtown destinations aren’t millionaires immune to the long-lasting effects of the pandemic. They have been forced to endure two provincial lockdowns, and adhere to a wide-range of safety measures that have severely impacted the way they do business.

These are members of our community, just like you and me, and they’re struggling. Many are having issues making ends meet.

Not that you’d know it. Even if you stopped to talk to them, to ask them how they’re really doing, you would likely be met with a great big smile and told they’re getting on just fine. I know that’s the response I’ve gotten time and again as I’ve done the rounds.

The truth is though, things are far from fine. There are some businesses that may not reopen once the current lockdown ends. And what a shame that would be.

Small businesses are the lifeblood of a community. Often, they are the first to support a worthwhile community endeavour. They’re the sponsors of your kid’s minor softball, or Timbits team. They’re the community’s greatest champions.

So now, in their time of need, it falls on us to support them. It falls on us to ensure that, when this pandemic is over, there’s still a vibrant downtown core we can call our own.

With that in mind, Haliburton’s media are joining together to launch the Secret Samaritan initiative. There are no catches, and there are no hidden agendas. We are simply encouraging those who have the means to do so, those who have a few dollars leftover in their weekly budget to spare a thought for their favourite business. The likelihood is that they need your help more than you know right now.

One local resident shared a story with me last week. On a recent visit to a downtown store, this individual discreetly handed an envelope with some cash in it to the business owner. It was this person’s way of showing support during a difficult time. The business owner broke down into tears.

Again, to reiterate, it’s amazing how the simplest idea and smallest gesture can make the biggest difference and turn into something truly special. We’d like to see Haliburton become a shining example of this throughout the remainder of this pandemic.

Haliburton helping Haliburton. That sure does have a nice ring to it.