By Darren Lum
Getting through the pandemic has been a lesson on how working together helps everyone.
It’s that kind of approach that is at the heart of this year’s Rock our World, a major fundraiser for Haliburton Highlands Land Trust, who are stewards of five properties, including the Dahl Forest and the Barnum Creek Reserve.
Like last year, the event is being restricted to an online auction from Aug. 1 to 15, foregoing the in-person attributes, which have in the past included a buffet dinner, a dance and live auctions.
The Land Trust past chairperson, Mary-Lou Gerstl said the way this auction works is to enable businesses that have prospered to share their wealth by buying a sponsorship, which is then used by the Land Trust to purchase a gift certificate, product or service from a business that has been adversely affected during the pandemic and then add it to the inventory of items up for the auction.
There is a four-way winner aspect to everything, she said.
“The first one of course being the sponsor themself. The pay-it-forward sponsor, who [gain] through recognition in media and the Land Trust’s social media and just knowing they’ve been able to help those small retail businesses who are suffering so badly because the COVID-19 pandemic. The small retail businesses, of course they win because they’re getting a much-needed infusion of cash, which will hopefully help them recover and, hopefully, help them continue in the future. The Land Trust wins because of all the revenue derived from the auction will go towards maintaining and protecting our properties. The fourth winner is our community. The people that visit our properties, knowing the trails will continue to be maintained for their enjoyment and knowing all our properties will continue to be maintained and protected, because that was the initial intent of the people who donated the properties.”
All the funds received through the auction will go towards HHLT’s Stewardship Fund, which helps to cover 25 per cent of costs related to management and protection.
This is the Land Trust’s major fundraiser of the year, accounting for 25 per cent of their costs.
“Our role in this whole thing is to maintain and protect their properties in perpetuity and that means that two of the properties – Dahl Forest and Barnum Creek – are open to the public and have trails … for activities. Those trails have to be maintained. We’ve got open grassy areas on both properties that need to be mowed because they’re prime habitat for many of our species at risk in the county and there are expenses there. There are insurance costs on the properties. You know a number of costs related to the properties … so that’s where our proceeds of Rock our World go towards,” she said.
Money raised from this, and membership dues and donations all go to the Land Trust’s stewardship fund.
She said the idea for this came from a Land Trust member reading an Echo article a couple of weeks ago about how the related lockdowns during the pandemic has adversely affected small businesses.
Gerstl said so far they’ve had a few sponsored businesses come forward for the auction.
Thus far the Land Trust is in the process of finalizing the setting up of an online auction platform.
She welcomes businesses that are able to join the effort and to expect a call soon.
“It’s coming along. It’s just getting all businesses together that we want to approach and making that phone call and sending them the information,” she said. “And with the interview that I did this morning on Canoe FM, hopefully, we’ll have people coming and knocking on our door, saying hey I want to pay it forward.”
Among the early sponsors, which can include individuals of the community, is Floyd Hall Limited. President Glenn Hall said his support for the Land Trust goes back years because to him, the draw for people to come to Haliburton County is nature.
“Without nature we don’t get a lot of our tourism, and it’s just an invaluable place to live,” he said.
He adds, this was a unique opportunity to help small businesses that have been affected by the pandemic. Hall said his message to businesses that have prospered during the pandemic and can afford to sponsor is, it’s time to give back.
“It’s a great cause. Not only are you helping the Land Trust, but you’re helping other small businesses that have been through over a year of grief,” he said.