The Gravenhurst Tim Hortons locations are continuing their multi-year Smile Cookie campaign in support of local education, and up next is Gravenhurst Public School (GPS).
After supporting Muskoka Beechgrove through last year’s campaign, the two Gravenhurst locations announced their intention to support local schools over the following four years. K.P. Manson Public School, Glen Orchard Public School and Gravenhurst High School will receive support in the coming years, but this time around, the spotlight is on GPS. Prices for the Smile Cookies have increased to $1.50 plus tax, but all the proceeds will still go to local charities selected by franchise owners across the country. This year’s campaign will also run from May 1 to 7 instead of the usual timeframe in September.
“We’re teaming up with another amazing elementary school in our community, Gravenhurst Public School, and I am excited to see their personality come out within this program,” said Ashley Hrinkanic, operator of the Gravenhurst Tim Hortons locations.
Hrinkanic’s daughter goes to Muskoka Beechgrove, so it was great for her to see the excitement amongst her daughter’s friends and peers last year as the school made updates to their outdoor recreation area. It was particularly special for Hrinkanic to experience it as both parent and franchise owner, so she’s looking forward to carrying that excitement through the next few years.
She’s been working with her general manager Kristina Brownlee and the school’s parent council to put together decorations and prepare for the start of the campaign. She’s already blown away by the support they’ve received from GPS as well as past recipients.
“It’s really humbling to see people giving back when they have received before,” Hrinkanic said. “Those people know how much of an impact that Smile Cookie program made for them and for them to be able to give back to the next group is fantastic.”
The community response to last year’s announcement was been emotional and exciting to witness, she said. People from across Muskoka and even down in the city have expressed their admiration for supporting local education and the enthusiasm from parents has been particularly evident.
Hrinkanic wants to thank every single person who has supported Smile Cookie in Gravenhurst. The program wouldn’t be what it is today without every bit of their volunteer time and donations, and all of it is treasured by their staff.
“Christina Hunter and her parent council group is organizing volunteers to come in, but by any means, if anyone else who is in the community would like to volunteer to help decorate cookies, come on in and let us know,” she said. “We really can’t do this program to the extent we do it without the help from the community.”
Christina Hunter, chair of the parent council at GPS, said they’re well aware of how extensive the Smile Cookie program is, so they’ve already gotten their ranks ready to help decorate. It’s a great activity for families and children, though they do ask that kids be Grade 5 and over to participate.
“We know it’s a huge undertaking, so we’ve reached out to the community, not just parent council but to parents and grandparents and guardians, neighbors and friends, to help us decorate the cookies because we know it takes a lot of work, so we’ve got a bit of a schedule going,” Hunter said. “I’ve been thrilled at the response so far of people just making themselves available to help out.”
Hunter has two children at Gravenhurst Public School, one in Grade 5 and one in Grade 8. She’s been chair of the parent council since 2020, and the group is absolutely thrilled to be the recipient of this year’s Smile Cookie funding.
After seeing the success that Muskoka Beechgrove had in the fall, they’re hoping the community will rally together again for GPS. Similar to Beechgrove, they also plan to use the money to improve their playground and outdoor recreation areas.
“Last year, we used our funds for the kindergarten playground, so we upgraded a few of those equipment pieces, and now we’ve moved on to the main yard playground for the older kids to use,” she said. “It’s been years in the making, that playground, so it’s time to upgrade it. But recognizing that it is a huge undertaking and it will take quite a few years to raise the money to complete the work, we’re going to be doing it in a few steps.”
The parent council and school staff are currently looking at upgrading some of the existing equipment and creating an outdoor education space with plans to do further improvements in the years to come. With so many great causes to choose from in Muskoka, Hunter said it’s fantastic to see such a fun and youthful campaign supporting local children.
She and the rest of the school are grateful for the opportunity to be part of the Smile Cookie program, and they look forward to grabbing some piping bags and getting started decorating.
“We hope that the community comes out to support,” Hunter said. “We’re happy to work hard and roll up our sleeves and help out as we can.”
To support Gravenhurst Public School through the Smile Cookie campaign, visit the Gravenhurst Tim Hortons locations at 150 Talisman Drive and 2329 Highway 11 South from May 1 to 7. To pre-order cookies, click here.