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

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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.


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.


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


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.

Rev. Todd Bender
Founder & Executive Director

Cathy O’Donnell
Chair of Board of Directors


Toys were gifted to children in the Hamilton community at Christmas.
Children were treated to pop-up programming right at their front doors.
Youth joined us for small pizza parties across the city.
Children received a tasty Christmas lunch.
Children received a birthday gift.
Youth received an Education Fund Scholarship.
CityKidz families received a special Christmas package.
Families received personalized care kits with daily essentials and fun activities.
Youth participated in online mentorship sessions.


“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 Mini-Yo-We. 

Given all the fond memories he had from his time in our programs, continuing his journey on to CityYouth and Jr. Leadership was a natural progression for Nick. It was an opportunity to pay forward the experience that had brightened his weekends for nearly a decade. 

From the time he was 12, Nick spent most Saturdays from 8:30 in the morning to late in the afternoon in our theatres and on our buses helping keep kids safe and entertained.

“It was hectic, but it was fun,” Nick says of the dozens of bus rides ferrying kids to and from CityKidz. “I had to adapt to keep them calm and entertained.”

But Nick didn’t just help out on buses and in the theatres; he was also on stage, ready to take a whipped cream pie to the face or help out with just about anything to bring the audience joy.

“Nick would do whatever he was asked, and he would do it with such a good attitude,” remembers his CityYouth mentor, Kevin Morris.

“Nick is an amazing young man,” continues Kevin. “He leads effortlessly.”

Whatever situation he’s put in, Nick’s talent for leadership shines. Whether it’s wrangling energetic kids on Saturdays or supporting his peers at CityYouth on Wednesdays, he has a gift for capturing and focusing the energy of those around him.

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While our year started off normal, with big plans for a spectacular season, our ambitions were abruptly brought to a halt with the onset of the pandemic.

But, knowing our kids were counting on us, we didn’t linger in our disappointment. Instead, we set our minds to the task of finding new ways to connect and shine faith, hope and love into our community.

  • Production Team begins planning an exciting spring program celebrating the ‘Fantastic Features’ in our lives and the world around us.

  • 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.

  • WHO declares COVID-19 a global pandemic, schools close, and the province enters lockdown mere days before our first Saturday program.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Kids get creative for our first pizza party contest.

  • Restrictions ease as Hamilton enters Stage 2 of the provincial reopening framework.

  • 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.

  • Our big red buses hit the road for a tour of our neighbourhoods, giving our kids a preview of the summer fun ahead.

  • 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.

  • Youth join us on Zoom for weekly team challenges and mentor-led discussions.

  • Kids dance, sing an enjoy stories with us at their front doors and in neighbourhood parks all throughout August.

  • A new class of Weston Family Scholars begins their post-secondary education.

  • Youth connect with us in small groups at local parks for pizza parties and outdoor games.

  • Personalized care kits start going out to struggling families.

  • Children receive snacks and meals when volunteers come to visits each week.

  • Youth walk with us to raise money for CityKidz through Road2Hope.

  • Our Fun Squad continues to bring magic, food, birthday gifts, and hope to our community.

  • Hamilton moves to the Red Zone as COVID-19 cases continue to rapidly increase.

  • To ensure every child receives their gift safely, we decide to expedite our Gift of Christmas delivery plans.

  • Staff and volunteers finish delivering Christmas gifts and food for all our CityKidz children in record time thanks to the generosity of our Hamilton community.

  • Mentors deliver gifts to our CityYouth teens.

  • Families join us online to celebrate our first-ever Christmas Spectacular on Youtube.


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

Amy Che
Laurier University
Youth & Children Studies

Legeset Kefte
Mohawk College
Child & Youth Care

Salamewit Kefte
McMaster University
Social Studies

Baby Clae
Mohawk College
Advertising & Marketing Communications

Ellene Molla
University of Waterloo
Recreation & Leisure Studies

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

Chantel Cairns

Emily Felaire

Athena Goodale

Dajanah Witter

Randy MacNeill


Premier Supporter

Weston Family Foundation Logo

Diamond Corporate Partners

AIM American Iron & Metal Logo

Gold Corporate Partners

Janco Steel Logo
Branthaven Logo

Bronze Corporate Partners



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

ArcelorMittal Foundations

Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities

Charity of Hope

Government of Canada’s Emergency Support Fund

Enterprise Holdings Foundation

GWD Foundation for Kids

Hamilton Community Foundation

Niagara Community Foundation

Weston Family Foundation


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.


For all the challenges 2020 threw our way, it also gave us a unique opportunity to learn, grow and innovate. Reflecting on the successes and lessons of the past year, we entered 2021 with hope and determination to renew our shared mandate, increase our impact in the Hamilton community, and establish a sustainable model for future growth.


Continue to build on the impact of the CityKidz Cares Project
The CityKidz Cares Project was piloted to move our mission forward under the challenging circumstances of the pandemic. Last year, we experimented and adapted. This year, we will be formalizing and integrating our new initiatives, such as Care Kits and online programming, into our program repertoire to enrich our children’s experience.


Continue to Strengthen our organizational capacity
In order to serve our children well, we want CityKidz to be a high impact organization. This means evaluating our organizational strengths and weaknesses, and finding opportunities to improve our performance so that we can have a greater impact on the Hamilton community.


Establish the new CityKidz program model
Our goal is to update our Program Model to reflect how CityKidz will support transformation in the lives of participants through our new programs and projects. The new program model will be a progressive journey, founded in our mission to see children rise above their circumstances to pursue and achieve their dreams.


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 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.


Becoming a Monthly Donor means joining a Community of Hope committed to seeing an end to child poverty in Hamilton. It is a personal commitment to the long-term, sustainable well-being of the most vulnerable children in our city. 

When we can depend on you, our kids can depend on us. 

Your monthly support provides children with weekly home visits, transportation (when it is safe to return to our theatres), and life-changing programs, as well as nurturing mentors and role models. It allows us to be there for children and youth, both in their moments of struggle and times of celebration, from before they start school through to young adulthood. 

Reliable monthly giving enables us to plan ahead. It allows us to nurture long-term, transformative relationships that build resilience and help children to thrive. It empowers us to go deeper in our relationships and programming to have a meaningful and enduring impact on the lives of our amazing children.


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