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Gay Lea Foundation announces 10 new charitable grants 

With the season of giving upon us, the Gay Lea Foundation is pleased to announce 10 new charitable grants supporting healthcare, poverty relief, and community well-being projects in Canada, Africa, and South America. 

The first round of grants for our 2024 fiscal year were approved by the Foundation board in November, and together total more than $154,000 in donations. 

“Our Gay Lea Foundation was born from a genuine desire among our employees and farmer members to give back to local communities and those in need around the world,” says Foundation chair, Janet Ringelberg. “As a co-operative, our vision to Enrich communities co-operatively is engrained in everything we do – but the true, grassroots commitment to our shared values is on full display through our Gay Lea Foundation.” 

Since its creation in 2014, the Gay Lea Foundation has awarded more than $2.5 Million in charitable grants to more than 130 registered Canadian charities providing important humanitarian support to communities in Canada, Haiti, Central America, Asia, and Africa.  

Read on to learn about the charities selected, the inspiring work they’re undertaking to provide hope for those who need it most, and how Gay Lea Foods is making a difference for people and communities around the world!  


Christie Refugee Welcome Centre 

Located in downtown Toronto, Christie Refugee Welcome Centre (CRWC) has provided emergency shelter, initial settlement services and follow-up support for refugee families from all ethnic, racial, or religious backgrounds since 1989. Visit 

Project: The After-School Literacy, Music and Fitness Program for Homeless Refugee Children in Toronto, Canada 

The CRWC’s after-school literacy, music and fitness program provides free after-school and weekend programs for refugee children living in the shelter aged 4-12. The literacy component, offered twice a week, provides small group and individualized help to improve reading, writing, comprehension, and oral skills, while the music component, also offered twice a week, focuses on advancing musical literacy with a variety of instruments. The fitness component is offered once a week and focuses on building a foundation of physical literacy and teamwork. 

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $3,000 to purchase educational supplies and fitness equipment for the program, which helps lay a foundation for the successful integration of refugee children into Canadian society. 


CUPS Calgary Society 

CUPS supports Calgarians impacted by poverty, trauma, and systemic marginalization with a unique, integrated and science-informed approach to care. The organization empowers people to work holistically to create and achieve goals that support their well-being and build readiness to navigate and access support in the community. Visit  

Project: CUPS Mental Health Services in Calgary, Canada 

CUPS focuses on creating a safe and trauma-informed experience for their clients, who, on average, experience mental health disorders at a rate 1.5 to 5 times greater than the general population. The organization provides low-barrier access to mental health counselling for individuals and families and offers specialized group support. Access to counselling services at no cost eliminates the financial barrier, and providing flexible options for service delivery reduces the barrier of accessibility and directly addresses concerns such as social isolation and lack of transportation. 

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $25,000 to cover costs associated with providing on-site, virtual, and outreach mental health support. This includes mental health group materials, communications, travel expenses, staff training and accreditation, participant assessment and file management, program spaces, program leadership, and providing shared services. 


Green Iglu 

Green Iglu supports remote and Indigenous communities in improving food security and overall wellness through community-led partnerships across Canada. The non-profit builds multi-season greenhouses that yield bountiful harvests of fruits, vegetables and culturally significant plants. Green Iglu also develops education and training tools to ensure community success. Visit 

Project: Wasaho First Nation Maximum Growth Food Security Initiative 

Wasaho First Nation is Ontario’s most northerly community. Isolated with no year-round road access, the community’s 400 residents face extremely high living costs and scarce access to perishable groceries. This project aims to maximize Wasaho First Nation’s greenhouse capacity and food production by covering costs associated with greenhouse upgrades. 

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $21,296 to cover the cost of equipment (including barrels for water collection and heating, aluminum trim, soil and manure, batteries), shipping, labour and operational costs. 



H2O4ALL was founded in 2008 with a mission to bring clean water and sanitation to developing areas worldwide. Working in partnership with local communities, the organization develops innovative tools and affordable, appropriate technology to help communities implement sustainable solutions for their water crises. Visit  

Project: Safe Water For Mailiari Health Centre in Meru County, Kenya 

In partnership with Reach One Touch One (ROTOM), H2O4ALL will supply safe water to the patients of the Mailiari Health Centre, approximately 6390 residents and 330 households in Nairiri village, and the residents of surrounding communities in Meru County in Central Kenya, East Africa. The organization will additionally establish a project committee comprised of community members to manage the water facility and ensure the sustainability of the project. 

This project will enable residents to use their time for education and economic development instead of travelling long distances for water, and will prevent health risks caused by contaminated water. 

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $10,000 to implement a safe water system for the medical clinic, including drilling a borehole and facilitating water storage, disinfection, and community access.  


Hospice Wellington 

Recognized in Guelph and Wellington County for their leadership in supporting those facing end-of-life or bereavement, Hospice Wellington is a charitable organization that provides residential and community services at no cost. Working in collaboration with clients, volunteers, staff, supporters and partners, the organization aspires to provide the best possible palliative care for individuals and families. Visit: 

Program: New Supplies for Palliative Patients at Hospice Wellington in Guelph, Ontario 

Hospice Wellington takes in approximately 300 palliative patients per year, with the aim of making the final days, weeks, or months of life comfortable. With this program, the organization will be able to provide new high quality, hypoallergenic, temperature-regulating sheets and towels to ensure comfort for their residents.  

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $8,400 for new sheets, towels, and comforters for palliative patients. 



MakeWay is a national charity and public foundation with a goal to enable nature and communities to thrive together. The organization works with remote, Northern, and Indigenous communities, as well as urban neighbourhoods, to provide innovative supports for environmental and social change initiatives across the country. Visit and 

Project: Climate Change Connection in Winnipeg, Manitoba 

Climate Change Connection (CCC) is a project on MakeWay’s shared platform which provides operational support, governance, and charitable expertise for changemakers. Since 2002, CCC has been the leading public education and outreach hub in Manitoba focused on raising awareness about climate change and inspiring action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

This project will target food waste at the supply chain level and redirect it to support those most vulnerable and food insecure in Manitoba. CCC will coordinate and facilitate the rescue of large volumes of surplus food in collaboration with their partners including: Harvest Manitoba, the Leftovers Foundation, Community Helpers Unite, the Brandon Food Rescue, and Second Harvest to help increase their capacity. 

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $15,909 to cover operational costs associated with redirecting surplus food and increasing the capacity of the local food bank using refrigerated shipping containers. 


SHEAF/ESPIGA Foundation 

SHEAF/ESPIGA is dedicated to assisting the poor, marginalized and underprivileged in Nicaragua by working with local partners to promote holistic development at the grass roots level through projects focused on health issues, educational programs and agricultural projects. Visit 

Project: The Siksayari Cocoa Project in Nicaragua, Central America 

Working with local leaders in Siksayari, an isolated and impoverished indigenous community in Nicaragua accessible only by river, SHEAF/ESPIGA will help the community establish and manage a sustainable agroforestry system, introducing the non-traditional (but profitable) crop of cocoa and combining it with avocados, bananas and basic grains.  

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $12,425 to continue providing support in the construction of a nursery, purchasing materials for the nursery (seeds, benches, shade structures, etc.) and hiring a consultant to provide technical help and crop management for the residents of Siksayari. 


Shine Through the Rain Foundation   

The Shine Through the Rain Foundation does many things, but all in the service of one goal: to help those affected by life threatening illnesses. Whether it’s through services or funds, they provide guidance, support, and financial aid to adults, children, and families in need. When things seem gloomy and you’re being rained on, they’re here to help you shine through it. Visit 

Project: Rural Rainy-Day Grocery & Shelter Program 

Recognizing the unique burdens faced by rural patients, including travel to and from medical appointments and hospitals in distant urban centres, parking fees, hotel stays, restaurant meals, and other expenses, this program provides financial assistant to feed and shelter low-income Canadians with life-threatening illnesses. Support is offered through grocery gift cards and payments of past-due rent and utilities for rural patients in need, helping to ensure they can recover in their own homes. 

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $7,500 to support the program, which provides up to $1,500 per patient, per year, in the form of grocery gift cards and/or past-due rent and utility payments. 


St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation, Hamilton 

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation works with the community to secure donations that help their hospital purchase life-saving equipment, fund healthcare research and facility renewal, and help comfort and care for patients. Visit: 

Project: Giving Babies the Best Start Possible: Renewing and Expanding the Neonatal Special Care Nursery in Hamilton, Ontario 

Every year, more than half of all babies born in Hamilton have their start at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton (SJHH). Approximately 600 of those babies who are born prematurely or with a medical condition will need the support of the Hospital’s neonatal special care nursery. This project will support the expansion of the Special Care Nursery, creating a more patient and family–centred space that will allow St. Joe’s to care for even more newborns by accommodating up to 150 newborns transferred each year from other hospitals in the region. 

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $25,000 to retrofit the organization’s existing space, including spacing patient bays to further support infection prevention, dividing bays with privacy screens, installing dimmable lighting and medical device mechanical panels, and the construction of an isolation room for critically ill newborns. The grant may also support equipping the unit with healthcare technology that will give newborns the best start possible.  


Tearfund Canada 

Tearfund Canada works with local agencies across Africa and Asia to help meet the needs of people living in poverty through emergency assistance (including food, shelter, medicines, and other necessities), integrated development programs, agricultural training, primary health care, and food security programs. 

Project:Agricultural Empowerment and Food Security in Hobicha, Ethiopia 

Almost 6 million people in Ethiopia have lost their livelihoods and are facing chronic food insecurity due to drought and dying crops and livestock. This project will be a continuation and expansion of a previous project working in Hobicha, Ethiopia, facilitating conservation agriculture training for farmers to increase food security, build resilience to a changing climate, and bring extra income to families. 

Gay Lea Foundation grant: $26,300 to train local instructors and facilitate training sessions, to secure training materials such as meals for participants, for transportation to demonstration plots, to provide starter farming inputs like seeds for farmers, and to ensure the quality of the programming. 

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