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Giving back in the capital


Meet Michael Wood and Peter Gilroy, owners of Ottawa Special Events, a Meridian Small Business Member in Ottawa, and finalist in Meridian’s Small Business Community Impact Award program.

Member Snapshot:

When Peter and Mike started Ottawa Special Events, they wanted to provide a one-stop shop for event services in Ottawa – including tent rentals, party rentals and event rentals. Their vision was to create a company that the local community felt that they owned and belonged to them, and prided itself on quality, friendliness and fair prices. Embedded in the Capital community, everything about Ottawa Special Events personifies community commitment.

Community Impact:

Braving the cold Ottawa winters has gotten a bit easier for those less fortunate, thanks to the Keep Ottawa Warm campaign. One night as Mike was getting off the highway, a homeless man came up to his truck and said he was going to freeze to death. This situation impacted Mike so profoundly he knew that he had to react. The result – Keep Ottawa Warm, an annual warm clothing drive campaign, with the support of leading Ottawa businesses, to help those in the city not fortunate enough to have a warm place to rest their heads, or even a hat to cover it. In a month, they had over 800 pieces of winter clothing donated to their shop that they dispersed to men and women's shelters all over Ottawa.

And their community support doesn’t end there. Every year, during the last weekend before Christmas, Ottawa Special Events set up their popcorn and cotton candy machines at a local Canadian Tire. Their entire staff donates their time and gives away popcorn and cotton candy for a donation. Three seasons in, and the team has raised over $8,000, which is given to staff to use for a Christmas shopping spree. They purchase the toys which are then donated to the Salvation Army's Toy Mountain. To date they have donated over 1,000 toys.

"We feel that a community that has given us so much deserves that we give back,” says Mike. “We are proud to say that we hold the Ottawa record for getting people out to donate blood for one day. We have held four blood drives and 3 out of the four were completely booked.”

Two years in a row, Ottawa Special Events made a deal with Costco to donate over 100 turkeys and 500 pounds of potatoes that they took directly to Ottawa shelters. This year between Labour Day and Thanksgiving, they made a commitment to donate $3.47 from each paid order, which buys someone a meal at the shelter and pays for programs. With 282 confirmed orders, they were able to donate almost $1,000.

After their work with FIFA Women's World Cup, which involved the purchase of 120 televisions, they donated 15 TVs to the Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

If that isn’t enough, in the past year, they have also been involved with the following events, initiatives and community partners: Easter Seals and The Drop 150 Epic Finale Rally, Barrhaven Food Cupboard and Barrhaven Food Truck Rally, Ottawa Capital Pride, Startup Canada, Ottawa Police Service, Get a Job-Clothing Drive, Give Life Blood Drive, City of Ottawa - Community Stage.

Both Peter and Mike are Professors at Algonquin College and Mentor and support the student population community.

The last word

“Ottawa Special Events is a community-driven company and we feel a responsibility to give back to the community that has given so much to supporting our business growth,” says Mike. “We love Ottawa and can't thank its residents enough for supporting us.”

Learn more about Meridian's Commitment to Communities

Learn more about Small Business services at Meridian