Door-knockers on front line of helping others

Hintonburg resident Eric Ainsworth makes a donation at his door to the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Person-to-Person campaign recently.


« If I have $20 to treat myself by ordering a pizza, I can help someone.»

Keep your porch light burning this week for volunteers from the Heart and Stroke Foundation’s Person-to-Person campaign. Because, I can now tell you from experience, stumbling up your stairs in the dark is no picnic.

In its final days, the annual month-long campaign has 3,000 canvassers hitting the streets — and their friends and neighbours up for cash — to reach this year’s campaign goal of $325,000 for Ottawa.

With a need for canvassers in the Hintonburg area where I live, I decided to pitch in, knock on some doors and to see what it is like firsthand to be a charity canvasser.

Nobody was home at the first three houses I visited. I stuck a campaign brochure in each of the mailboxes and jotted a note to myself to make follow-up visits. But an hour and a half later, I’d canvassed 22 houses and spoken to 18 people.

"If I have $20 to treat myself by ordering a pizza, I can help someone," said Garland Street resident Yolande Lamothe, handing me a donation.

Eric Ainsworth agreed. "It’s one of the small things we can do to make a semblance of a difference," said Ainsworth, who also gave $20.

Born with a heart murmur, "the heart is something I’ve been thinking about since I was a child," Lamothe said. When her father died of a heart attack in 1985, the cause became all the more important to her.

"I have a few charities I donate to on a regular basis and Heart and Stroke is one of them," said Ottawa resident David Chamberlin, who lost a sister to heart disease at the age of 42. He donates through a work campaign.

Although most people were receptive to my pitch, it wasn’t always an easy sell. "I’m really not interested," said one man, as soon as he spotted my badge and donation book. He shut the door firmly in my face.

But most people tend to react favourably to the foundation’s longest-running campaign, said Trisha Merkley-Choo, area coordinator for the Person-to-Person campaign.

Lots of people have had their lives touched by heart disease and stroke — the No. 1 killers in Canada.

Ottawa’s Dave Abbey started volunteering about six years ago in Saskatchewan. "Heart disease affected three out of four of my grandparents, one of my parents and it’s in my in-laws’ family," said the canvasser and zone leader for the Merivale area.

"This is something I can do to give back."

"When I’m out in public meeting people, you can’t imagine how many people come up to me and have a story to tell," Merkley-Choo said. "At some point in their lives, everyone will know someone who will be touched."

Latest From ...