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The organizers: John and Cathy Wenuk

The pitch: Raising $362,000 and climbing

The cause: Canadians Sharing Locally and Globally

When John and Cathy Wenuk travelled to a village in southern India for their honeymoon in 2000, they formed a life-long attachment to the community.

The couple volunteered with a local charity during their honeymoon and they returned the following year for a wedding. “We just connected and saw that [the charity] had a great vision to help people in this remote area,” Ms. Wenuk, 63, recalled from the family’s home in Baskin’s Beach, Ont., outside Ottawa.

The Wenuks have been going back to the village, Thirumalaikodi, almost every year and in 2013 they created a Canadian charity called Canadians Sharing Locally and Globally to raise money for health care equipment and educational supplies. They work with local charities and suppliers to fund purchases of everything from patient transport vehicles to ventilators, cots, lab equipment, an electrocardiogram and PPE. They also fund several scholarships and have plans to launch a reforestation project.

The years of effort have paid off and today Thirumalaikodi has a 300-bed hospital, three schools and a nursing college. “We’ve watched it grow at a phenomenal pace and we’ve been excited to be a part of it,” Ms. Wenuk said.

In 2016 the couple retired from their home renovation business and they now devote most of their time to the charity. Every year they raise between $60,000 and $80,000 but last May they pulled in $362,000 in donations during the Ottawa Race Weekend, a series of running events and fundraisers that had to be held virtually this year because of the pandemic.

“This year was spectacular. It was way beyond our expectations or hopes,” Ms. Wenuk said. The money has already gone toward buying medical equipment and to help set up a COVID-19 testing centre and a patient ward at the hospital.

Mr. Wenuk, 67, said much of the local charities’ success has come from responding to individual needs. “These charities are really reaching out at a grassroots level to better lives and provide better opportunities,” he said. “It has been really, really fulfilling for me to see how [Canadian Sharing] has helped that.”

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