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December 18, 2000
Innovative community currency program helps low-income volunteers buy food and clothing
  
More than 300 low-income volunteers at 10 community agencies received special
honorariums this fall for food and clothing as part of the new Toronto Dollar
Spirit at Work project.

Toronto Dollar Community Projects Inc. initiated the Spirit at Work project
earlier this year to support caring services in local communities and to put
more spending power in the hands of those in need. Under the program, an
individual or company can designate a Toronto Dollar donation to a
participating agency or organization and receive a charitable tax receipt. The
agencies then provide Toronto Dollars to their front line workers, who in turn
give them as honorariums to their low-income volunteers (such as Out of the
Cold programs, community kitchens or youth programs). The sales of Toronto
Dollars have already raised more than $20,000 for 22 community organizations.

The volunteers can then use their Toronto Dollars at par with Canadian dollars
at more than 100 merchant stores and restaurants at the St. Lawrence Market and
elsewhere in the market area to purchase necessities such as food and clothing.
The St. Lawrence Market has been a core supporter of the Toronto Dollar program
since its inception.

"The Spirit at Work program has brought a ray of sunshine to our community,"
says Barbara Walkden, director of Development, Yonge Street Mission, one of the
10 agencies involved in the project. "The program benefits unemployed youth and
adults in so many ways, not only by providing an honorarium for their volunteer
efforts, but by doing so in an atmosphere of appreciation and dignity."

Adds Walkden, "Volunteering gives these individuals a sense of purpose and
self-worth, a feeling that they can contribute to the community despite their
economic circumstances. It also allows them to re-connect with their dormant
work skills, and in some cases, leads them back on the road to employment or
training. And the community organizations that rely on volunteers to help keep
their programs going are able to continue their important work and thank
volunteers in a tangible way."

"You could describe Toronto Dollars as a gift that keeps on giving," says Joy
Kogawa, a Toronto author who donates her time to promoting and running the
program. "When local merchants receive Toronto Dollars, they cash them in at 90
cents on the dollar, with the remaining 10 cents allocated back into community
projects. So in effect, the Spirit at Work program is generating for community
groups $110 for every $100 donation given."

In the spirit of the season, Toronto Dollar organizers and their community
agency beneficiaries are encouraging everyone to give the meaningful gift of
Toronto Dollars, and offer the following suggestions:

Individuals can:
- Give Toronto Dollars as stocking stuffers or enclosed in holiday greeting
cards.
- Use Toronto Dollars to purchase Christmas gifts from local merchants.
- Make a tax-receiptable donation to one of the Spirit at Work community
agencies (in your name or a friend's name) to be used for Toronto Dollar
thank-you gifts.

Businesses can:
- Consider adding their names to the community of more than 100 merchants and
restaurants that currently accept Toronto Dollars.
- Make a tax-receiptable donation to one of the Spirit at Work community
agencies to be used for Toronto Dollar thank you gifts.
- Add Toronto Dollars and Toronto Dollar program information to Christmas
baskets.
- Purchase corporate gifts from local merchants using Toronto Dollars.
- In lieu of sending a corporate gift, make a donation to Spirit at Work in the
name of a client or supplier.

Toronto Dollars can be purchased at the Market Square Dry Cleaners; the
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce (CIBC) branch at King and Toronto Street;
the Toronto Dollar Booth (on Saturdays) at the St. Lawrence Market; or in bulk
from Toronto Dollar by calling 416-361-0466.

For a complete list of participating merchants and community agencies, please
visit http://www.torontodollar.net


Media Contact
David Walsh
Toronto Dollar
416-361-1124

Keren Brown
416-214-2462

 

 

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