Keeping the Fun in Fundraising (during a pandemic)!

October 2020 – by Susy Picco


This month would have been PICCO’s 3rd Annual Volley for Camp Ooch—an open volleyball tournament for staff, clients, friends and family, but COVID-19 had other plans! If you live in Ontario, most of you will be familiar with Camp Oochigeas, affectionately known as “Camp Ooch”—a camp for kids affected by childhood cancer. The camp is privately-funded and has been offering these camps at no cost whatsoever to the families for over 35 years. Our goal for 2020 is to help send three kids to camp for a week, when summer camp hopefully re-opens next summer.


Camp Ooch, like many other physical camps, were forced to close this summer due to coronavirus. Above, kids from past years, shown canoeing in the Muskoka Lakes region.


The Power of Camp Camp Ooch—now known as Camp Ooch & Camp Trillium (merged together in January 2020), is a privately funded, non-profit camp for kids affected by childhood cancer. They hold overnight camp at their Muskoka location, day camps at their Toronto location—and even offer in-hospital camps for those kids who are too sick and/or unable to leave. Camp Ooch & Camp Trillium is often referred to as the social cure for cancer—celebrating kids for who they are—not what they have.


Our Drive to Make a Difference About 15 years ago, my husband and I got involved in an annual fundraiser called “Corvettes for Kids”. It was a day’s long car rally in which we raised money to send kids to camp. In 2017, PICCO celebrated its 25th year in business, so Mike and I wanted to make a donation to a charity to commemorate the milestone. We chose Camp Ooch because we were familiar with it through Corvettes for Kids.


A cabin up at Ooch Muskoka now bears PICCO’s name on it—an achievement we are very proud of!


In 2018, I started volunteering at Ooch’s downtown Toronto office twice a month. I did anything from folding and taking inventory of their t-shirts and hoodies, to making thank you phone calls to their donors, to making “bling” for their famous braids. The people at Ooch are amazing and so friendly; I was disappointed my volunteer activities were put on hold when COVID came into the picture...right now, I am missing it a lot!


Here is Susy Picco with fellow Camp Ooch staff and volunteers.


For the time being, I still wanted to find a way to give back during lockdown. Earlier this Spring, I hand-painted watercolour greeting cards and sold them on my Instagram account @stylingthenest. We raised over $1,000—enough to send one child to virtual camp! This initiative was so successful, I plan to do another “Cards for Camp Ooch” campaign for the upcoming holiday season.

Original watercolour cards, blank inside. Packaged in a bundle of 5 assorted cards, each card comes with an envelope.


Kids with Cancer Find Ways to Adapt...and So Have We During the pandemic, Camp Ooch has found a way to keep the community safe and connected, virtually. Kids meet wherever they are, in a hospital or at home—and Camp Ooch pairs kids and their families with activity kits which include supplies, camp swag, iPads, keepsakes and everything campers need for a full week of virtual camp—just like you would attend a Zoom meeting. It’s pretty awesome! Camp traditions are able to continue, with kids participating in songs, games and music.


At Camp Ooch, the Button Braid is a symbol of courage, community, friendship and fun—from picking the fabric, to deciding the length and colour combination, this “bling” reflects and celebrates individuality and creativity.


PICCO’s Fundraising Committee usually organizes an annual beach “Volley for Camp Ooch” tournament, which includes silent auctions, 50/50 draws and a BBQ. Thanks to our volunteers, sponsors and attendees in past years, we’ve been able to raise enough funds to send two kids to camp for each year since we started. Recently, we held a 60/40 draw in our office and collected enough to provide arts and crafts supplies for a few kids to participate in Ooch Virtual Camp. PICCO’s Fundraising Committee from time to time will also hold “pop-up” fundraisers throughout the year for our team. We've sold cookies, Jamaican patties, and yes, we’ve even gotten creative and made individual charcuterie boxes...because every dollar counts!


PICCO offers a lunchtime pop-up—with charcuterie boxes to help raise money to send kids living with cancer to camp.


Continuing to Paddle Makes Stronger Muscles Childhood cancer changes lives...and so does camp. Although we experienced the closure of many familiar and favourite places this summer, our hearts were especially heavy because many children missed the chance to have a physical place to gather, have fun, be silly and create memories—so did we! Sadly, with COVID-19 forcing us to cancel this year’s tournament, Mike and I decided to make a donation on behalf of PICCO, equivalent to sending three kids to camp in honour of our original commitment to Volley for Camp Ooch 2020.


PICCO Engineering will continue to support this important initiative, and we believe we’ll come back stronger in 2021—to broaden our reach and potentially send more kids to camp next year.


To learn more about Camp Ooch & Camp Trillium, visit:www.ooch.org

For more information contact: susyp@picco-engineering.com

Director, Social Events and Fundraising at PICCO Engineering

Over the years, Susy has been involved in various business and administrative matters, from collections to office decor and social event planning. She has been instrumental in supporting Mike Picco, while traveling and representing the PICCO team and organization. As PICCO grew, she felt it would benefit from a formal Social & Fundraising Committees and now leads all event planning and fundraising initiatives with the help of her committee members.


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