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Cyarah Dawe, 16, has been collecting empties from the community to donate the funds to the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA). In just a few months, she collected over $1,200 and donations continue to pour in. (Photo by Patricia Leboeuf, Petawawa Post)

16-year-old supporting local Ontario SPCA with ongoing bottle drive

By Patricia Lebeouf

Posted on Thursday October 1, 2020

They may look like ordinary boxes and bags of beer cans and bottles, but Cyarah Dawe sees them as hope and help for both the Ontario Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Ontario SPCA) and the environment.

The 16-year-old has been collecting donated empties from area residents, sorting and returning them for a refund that she then gives to the Ontario SPCA Renfrew County Animal Centre.

The philanthropic teenager has been collecting the bounty in the back of her parents’ store, Mike’s Hardware Doors and So Much More, and in just a few months has raised over $1,200.

And that number is increasing every day as awareness of her efforts grows.

Though people are free to donate cans and bottles at the store, she and her family are willing to pick them up as well.

“Obviously, we still social distance from them when we pick them up to be careful,” said Dawe. “And then we bring them back.”

It can be tedious to count and sort every single one, but worth it to ensure that the animals at the animal centre have adequate support and care.

“The OSPCA is a really big part of the community, and they help the animals that maybe don’t have a loving family, find a family,” said Dawe. “But they can’t do that if they don’t have the support of the community.”
Dawe has been a great supporter of the charity and even did the Polar Bear Plunge last year, risking frostbitten toes to raise about $1,000.

“I feel you should always try to help your community and give back,” said Dawe.

To raise awareness of her fundraiser, she has been using social media and word of mouth. Reaction to her requests has been overwhelmingly positive - even those who don’t drink alcohol or have already returned their refundables have helped out by donating cash.

“It is really good to see that even through all this uncertainty, people are still active in their community and willing to help out,” said Dawe. “It is really awesome, actually. Because even when things aren’t always good in the world, people still want to help out and make sure the animals are well taken care of.”

She is a big fan of volunteering and encourages people to assist local organizations. Though she points out that the Ontario SPCA is her charity of choice, there are countless other ways to help.

“Obviously, you can be a good person and not volunteer, but I feel like getting out and helping out where you can is a way to grow as a person and learn skills you would never have learned,” said Dawe.

Heather Jobe, Community Development Coordinator for the Ontario SPCA Renfrew County Animal Centre, agrees and has been amazed by the efforts of Dawe and her family.

The centre has always relied on volunteers, and their ongoing bottle drive has been one of their consistent fundraisers. Due to the pandemic, they’ve had to shift it to a virtual event with participants returning their empties on their own and then donating those funds to the local Ontario SPCA.

“These funds have been especially helpful during this time as kittens and cats were in our care for longer periods before our limited contact adoptions were introduced,” said Jobe. “We are so grateful for Cyarah’s support. Cyarah is an incredibly motivated young lady that has turned her passion for animals into a life-changing fundraiser.”

Empties can be dropped off at  Mike’s Hardware Doors and So Much More at 124 Priebe Rd during business hours, or people can arrange for Dawe to pick them up by reaching out on her personal Facebook page.