A key component of the aftermarket’s connection with communities is through charitable giving, and one of the largest and most generous is AIA’s High Fives For Kids Foundation, established in 2005 to allow AIA members and divisions to support Canadian charities that benefit kids and youth.
Raymond Proulx, in addition to being KYB America’s man in Canada, is the chair of the AIA High Fives For Kids Foundation. He recently joined host Andrew Ross on The Great Canadian Aftermarket Podcast to talk about the Foundation’s work. What follows are excerpts from their conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity.
AR: Like a lot of charitable organizations, when the pandemic really clamped things down, the AIA High Fives for Kids Foundation lost some of its key methods for raising funds for charitable causes for youth across Canada. And so you had a pretty good idea last year.
RP: We had different board meetings, just trying to get our head around how we were going to continue to support children’s charities, knowing that a lot of aftermarket events would not happen, and we came up with the Chairman’s Challenge: basically, to challenge AIA members to help us raise money so that we could continue to support children’s charities. So certainly the feedback was extremely positive when we launched it, and we continue to work with it and make sure that we can continue to raise funds and do the right things for children’s charities.
Last year, we raised a little over $30,000, and we were able to support school programs, lunch programs, summer camps, women’s abuse programs in which, as you know, children are affected. This year, we are very close to raising $40,000, and probably we’ll surpass that by year end.
So again, it has given us tremendous monies to really continue doing the work that we need to do. And that is really thanks to AIA members across Canada, and to individuals who made personal donations.
AR: One of the key components here is that the Foundation is looking for smaller organizations that don’t have a lot of means for fundraising.
RP: Smaller charities, in these smaller communities, are already struggling to generate revenues, be it from government or locally trying to raise monies. So we certainly have received a lot of those types of requests. And as you know, our focus is really working with AIA members in smaller communities, to generate a difference for those charities. And it means a lot to these smaller charities that we’re able to raise these funds and make these types of donations.
AR: We’ve had a significant influx of refugees from the Ukraine in Canada. We have a significant existing population of those of Ukrainian descent, something like 11 million, in this country. And so earlier this year, a Ukraine refugee-focused initiative was indicated as a target. How is that going in selecting an organization, and what are we looking forward to being able to do for these folks in need?
RP: Our board is presently doing the research, and we feel we’re pretty close to having a charity that is presently supporting the Ukrainian cause. So we think by the fourth quarter of this year, we will have made a donation. It was very critical to us, and also to share with AIA members across Canada, that above children’s charities, to support this cause. They have gone through a lot of grief, and we wanted to make a small donation to them. And certainly it would make a big difference to them for us to do that. So we are committed and we will have that done this year.
AR: In addition to fundraising, the High Fives for Kids Foundation has already started doing some giving this year.
RP: We’ve basically, as of a few weeks ago, just approved supporting 10 aftermarket scholarships to different folks across Canada. We’re very proud of that. And we’re presently looking at two charities right now, to make donations to them. So again, this year we’re close to raising $40,000 and probably will surpass that. And a lot of those monies are being used for these commitments that we have made.
So going into 2023, it will make our foundation that much stronger – having those funds behind us, giving some of them away, but going into 2023 very strong.
AR: For folks who wanted to either suggest a cause that might be considered by the AIA High Fives For Kids Foundation, to get involved, or to donate, what should they do?
RP: We love donations! But certainly if they go into our website, which is www.aiahighfivesforkids.ca, they will see the charities that we have supported, the causes that we continue to support, and some of the things that we have done. There’s a lot of history about our foundation, and also there’s information for if they want to volunteer, or if they want to donate money. So we certainly encourage everybody to go on this website. It’s a great platform to understand a lot more about what we are doing as a foundation.
An AIA member has to present the charity request. And again, when you think about it, a lot of distributors and jobbers across Canada know of smaller charities that we could make a difference for. So we certainly encourage all AIA members to please put in your request. We review them twice a year, and if they suit the criteria of our foundation, we’re more than happy to raise funds and support those causes.
Visit AIAHighFivesforKids.ca to learn more and to donate.
In addition to numerous contributions from individuals, donations have been gratefully received from the following organizations:
Specialty Sales and Marketing
Wakefield Canada Inc.
Altrom Auto Group
CARQUEST CANADA LTD.
Lordco Parts Ltd.
CHAT Integrated Media Inc.
Pico of Canada
Standard Motor Products
APD Automotive Parts Distributors
Modern Sales Co-op
National Sales Inc.
Magnacharge Battery Corporation
Piston Ring Service
CANUSA Automotive Warehousing
Groupe Del Vasto