2020 Impact Report

When everything stopped, your support kept us going. See how faith, hope and love transformed children’s lives in 2020.
Our Mission

We exist to increase resiliency and inspire BIG dreams for Canadian children living in low-income communities by providing inspirational experiences and nurturing personal relationships, one child at a time.

Our Big Dream

That one day, in the not so distant future, we will see the end of child poverty in Canada and every child would have equal opportunity to thrive, to dream big and to reach their full potential.

Our Values

We are a people of FAITH
We are a community of HOPE
We are servants of LOVE


Or read it below*

Message from the Executive Director & Board Chair

Last year more than ever, our children needed the love and support of their community to get them through the isolation, disappointment and hardships of the coronavirus pandemic. Thanks to your generous hearts, we were able to give them just that.

We decided early on that, rather than focus on the growing list of things we could no longer do, we wanted to search for silver linings and devote all our efforts to the things we could do to move our mission forward.

For all the challenges and uncertainty 2020 threw our way, your unwavering support allowed us to adapt and innovate new programs and initiatives to meet our kids’ physical, emotional, and psychological needs. 

We delivered thousands of meals to hungry children. We created faith-based, interactive online entertainment for our cooped-up kids. We brought the CityKidz experience, complete with food, prizes, dance and song right to families’ front doors. We connected with isolated, anxious youth and offered guidance, games, and laughter. We showed vulnerable children that they were loved.

We are so grateful to this community of hope for sticking with us through the turbulent year that was 2020. To our volunteers, who were up for anything and eager to help whenever and however they could: we are awed by your compassion and dedication. To our Miracle Sunday churches, who faithfully prayed and generously gave: we are inspired by the way you put your faith into action to uplift our community. To our donors, big and small, who answered our calls for support: we are humbled by your generosity. 

Thank you for all your love and support in 2020. Thank you for empowering resilience in our organization and the children we serve. 

Thank you for transforming lives.

Todd Bender

Rev. Todd Bender
Founder & Executive Director

Cathy Signature

Cathy O’Donnell
Chair of Board of Directors

2020 Highlights
Kids receiving gifts


Toys were gifted to children in the Hamilton community at Christmas.


Youth joined us for small pizza parties across the city.

Child laughing
Kids receiving packages


Children received a tasty Christmas lunch.


Children were treated to pop-up programming right at their front doors.

Kids with masks
Child receiving birthday gift


Children received a birthday gift.


24 Youth received an Education Fund Scholarship.

Families receiving packages


CityKidz families received a special Christmas package.


Families received personalized care kits with daily essentials and fun activities.

Care kits


Youth participated in online mentorship sessions.

Stories of Hope

“I loved being at CityKidz,” says 16-year-old Nick Opperman. “Becoming a Jr. Leader was my way to help out and be part of it.”

Nick started attending our programs when he was just three. He remembers running the gauntlet of high-fives that led him from the bus to the Playhouse Theatre. He remembers getting called on stage to compete in a doughnut eating contest. He lights up about going to Camp MiniYo-We.

Care Kits Thank You
2020 Timeline
January 6
Production Team begins planning an exciting spring program celebrating the ‘Fantastic Features’ in our lives and the world around us.
March 7
We celebrate with volunteers and join our kids in local parks for games and hot chocolate as we prepare to launch a new program season.
March 11
WHO declares COVID-19 a global pandemic, schools close, and the province enters lockdown mere days before our first Saturday program.
March 16
We decide if our kids can’t come to us, we’ll bring CityKidz to them and set to work building a new website to deliver uplifting, faith-filled content our kids can enjoy from the safety of their homes.
March 18
CityYouth moves online as teens join us on Instagram for creative challenges, tips for self-care, inspiring words, and the chance to talk about the challenges of quarantine.
April 6
BigRedBus.ca launches with games, contests, and activities, as well as videos that inspire creativity, address mental health, and provide engaging stories for kids of all ages.
April 9
Kids get creative for our first pizza party contest.
June 19
Restrictions ease as Hamilton enters Stage 2 of the provincial reopening framework.
July 1
After months of planning, we launch the CityKidz Cares Project - a series of initiatives designed to meet the unique needs of our children and families during COVID-19.
July 6
Our big red buses hit the road for a tour of our neighbourhoods, giving our kids a preview of the summer fun ahead.
July 13
Staff join our volunteers on Home Visits to launch our pop-up programming and bring games, stories, food and birthday gifts right to our kids’ front doors.
July 22
Youth join us on Zoom for weekly team challenges and mentor-led discussions.
August 3-3 1
Kids dance, sing and enjoy stories with us at their front doors and in neighbourhood parks all throughout August.
September 8
A new class of Weston Family Scholars begins their postsecondary education.
September 15
Youth connect with us in small groups at local parks for pizza parties and outdoor games.
September 19
Personalized care kits start going out to struggling families.
September 12- October 31
Children receive snacks and meals when volunteers come to visit each week.
October 20
Youth walk with us to raise money for CityKidz through Road2Hope
November 1-14
Our Fun Squad continues to bring magic, food, birthday gifts, and hope to our community.
November 16
Hamilton moves to the Red Zone as COVID-19 cases continue to rapidly increase.
November 18
To ensure every child receives their gift safely, we decide to expedite our Gift of Christmas delivery plans.
December 5
Staff and volunteers finish delivering Christmas gifts and food to all our CityKidz children in record time thanks to the generosity of our Hamilton community.
December 9
Mentors deliver gifts to our CityYouth teens.
December 24
Families join us online to celebrate our first-ever Christmas Spectacular on YouTube.

Weston Family Scholars

Since 2015, the Weston Family Scholarship has provided financial support to dozens of CityKidz alumni to help fund their college and university education. The scholarship gives students the flexibility to use the funding wherever it will most empower their educational pursuits. Recipients have used the scholarship to help offset the cost of everything from tuition and textbooks to tutors and transportation. 

In 2020, nine new ambitious teens took a big leap towards realizing their dreams by starting their post-secondary education at schools across Ontario.  

Idman Ali
Anderson College
Medical Lab Technology

Arielle Guerrier
Mohawk College
Advertising & Marketing Communications

Nathaniel Kampia
Mohawk College

Salamewit Kefte
McMaster University
Social Studies

Baby Clae
Mohawk College
Advertising & Marketing Communications

Ellene Molla
University of Waterloo
Recreation & Leisure Studies

Amy Che
Laurier University
Youth & Children Studies

Legeset Kefte
Mohawk College
Child & Youth Care

Chelsea Opperman
Lakehead University
Concurrent Education & French

Additionally, six new grade 11 and 12 students received one-time grants to honour their academic commitments and embolden them towards post-secondary education:

Aldo Fonseca

Athena Goodale

Chantel Cairns

Dajanah Witter

Emily Felaire

Randy MacNeill

Foundations & Grants

Thank you so much to the generous foundations and grants who believe in the incredible potential of our amazing CityKidz children and youth.

Weston Family Foundation
Premier Supporter

Diamond Corporate Partners

Gold Corporate Partners

Bronze Corporate Partners

Financial Report

Everything we do at CityKidz is made possible by the financial support of our community. Donors, big and small, are the reason we are able to reach children with programs that inspire them towards their full potential and a poverty-free future.

We are honoured by your generosity and trust. We take seriously our responsibility to use your investments efficiently and in ways that make a demonstrable difference in the lives of the children we serve.

Despite the challenges of the pandemic, in 2020 you gifted us with $2,182,570 to support our community through a difficult year. Additionally, CityKidz received a Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy of $465,682 between March and November to ensure the continued delivery of our programs throughout 2021.

Last year, $1,765,197 of our revenue went directly towards new projects and programs developed to help our children through the pandemic. The rest was used to cover the operating expenses – including building, fundraising, and administrative expenses – necessary to bring our programs to life.

For additional information, please read our 2020 Financial Statements.

Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering will continue to look a little different in 2021 as we put the health and safety of our community first, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t fantastic ways for you to get involved and make a lasting difference in the lives of Hamilton children! To join our volunteer team, please contact volunteer@citykidz.ca for more information.

Meal and Care Kit Assembly
If you’ve got a couple hours to spare, we would greatly appreciate your help in assembling Care Kits and Family Meal Kits. These kits are packed with essential resources, fun activities, and nourishing food, as well as other daily necessities and uplifting surprises to support our families’ well-being.

Food Prep
No cooking skills required! We’re looking for friends to help us with food preparation and lunch assembly to make sure all our kids get something yummy and nourishing to eat every time we come to visit.

Bus Drivers
Even though we’re not driving kids to o ur theatres just yet, we still need bus drivers to help us deliver birthday and Christmas presents, supplies for neighbourhood events, and our volunteer teams to the neighbourhoods they serve.

Volunteers Transform Lives

Whatever your time, whatever your talents, you can make a transformative difference in a child’s life.

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