Durham adds Duck Derby to its history of giving

    Waddles the duck (Sherry MacLeod) and Michaela Mihaylova sell tickets for United Way's Duck Derby. Photo credit: Peter Fitzpatrick

    Durham College staff has its foot in the door for many charity efforts, but this year they’ve made a splash by competing in the United Way Duck Derby.

    Volunteer Michaela Mihaylova and campaign manager Sherry MacLeod (dressed as Waddles the duck) could be seen last Thursday selling tickets for the event. DC staff and students bought tickets which gave them rubber ducks which were released into the Oshawa Creek behind the Robert McLaughlin Gallery. The ducks ‘raced’ for cash prizes.

    “It’s you, (the students) who are our main partners,” said MacLeod. “We are very proud, truthfully.”

    The money collected by United Way goes back into the community by supporting local organizations and programs. Some of these include Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Durham, the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of Durham, Community Care Durham, and Distress Centre Durham.

    While this is the first time the Duck Derby has come to DC, this isn’t the first partnership its had with United Way. According to DC President Don Lovisa, the connection with United Way goes back beyond the 11 years he has worked on campus.

    “Durham College, like a lot of other organizations, we have received a lot of generosity from the community,” said Lovisa. “We also think it’s our responsibility to make a contribution back to the community.”

    DC staff aim to raise $25,000 each year for United Way through an annual draw. Staff members have the chance to win an extra week of vacation, a free parking pass for the year, and even a chance to see the president dye his hair DC green.

    United Way isn’t the only organization DC works to support. Lovisa and some staff also take time off one Thursday every month to volunteer at Saint Vincent’s Kitchen, which helps feed those in need in downtown Oshawa.

    “We have about 85 employees on a list who have volunteered to work there,” said Lovisa. “We think it’s of great value, so we allow them to use their work time to do it.”

    DC has also hosted charity events such as the annual Charity Cup fundraiser, where both UOIT and DC’s varsity soccer teams play against each other to raise money for Their Opportunity. The organization aims to help low-income families get their children into sports.

    “Our athletes run a variety of events for charities of their choice,” said Lovisa. “When you take a look at the facts, we have 12,000 students and a couple thousand staff, and when you start to mobilize that for good causes, you can do a lot.”

    This marked the second Duck Derby – and first involving DC – and this year saw 600 ducks in the race, up from 500 last year. The event also included a barbecue, supplied for free by Halenda’s Meat Shop, which was also sold out by the end of the day.

    “Don has always been such a great supporter. He understands students and their families need support,” said MacLeod.