Some $1300 already collected for Pelham Cares' coffers
There are a number of homes on Timber Creek Crescent with trucks parked in the driveway. But the Dodge 1500 at number 48 is something special.
Brad Saplywy and his ten-year-old son, Brayden, spent seven hours attaching 5000 LED multi-coloured lights to the vehicle with Gorilla tape, and are driving it around Niagara as a mobile Christmas light show, with a fundraising angle.
“I'm only running 108 watts for all 5000 lights, because the LEDs don’t draw much power,” said Brad. “But it’s best to have the engine running, or the lights will drain the battery pretty quickly.”
A resident of Fonthill for ten years but originally from Thunder Bay, Saplywy usually returns to the Lakehead for Christmas with his family, but the COVID lockdown put the freeze on to those plans this year. He and his spouse, Lucianna, encouraged Brayden to come up with an idea to spread some local seasonal cheer, and the result was a glowing truck tribute Brayden named the “JoyMaker.”
“People are really sad this year because of the pandemic and the lockdown, and they can't see their families,” said Brayden. “So I decided to call our lit-up truck the JoyMaker, because it brings happiness to people that see it.”
The reaction was immediate.
“On the inaugural drive with the lights attached, we hadn’t gone a block before other cars were honking and waving out their windows and giving us a thumbs up,” said Brad.
They decided to drop in on a few families that night to offer a socially-distanced Merry Christmas. One friend suggested that local businesses join forces to offer a prize package draw to people who took a photo of the JoyMaker, and tagged it to their Facebook pages. The concept took on a charitable flair, as it was decided that people would be required to make a donation to Pelham Cares before sharing their picture of the truck online.
The idea went viral overnight, and donations flooded in. Over the next few nights, the JoyMaker truck was driven around town, and parked in Pelham shopping plazas to promote the cause.
“The first two nights we did just over $1000, and I think we're pushing $1300 now,” said Brad. “It's been hard because of the government’s COVID restrictions…a lot of businesses are closed, and we can’t solicit donations in public, so we've been posting on our Facebook pages where we're going….we’ll be out driving around every night until New Year’s Eve.”
On Christmas Eve, the Saplywys visited long-term care homes in the area, in the hope of bringing some joy to the elderly.
“We called ahead to the Woodlands of Sunset on Pelham Street, and the charge nurse brought all the residents to the windows,” said Brad. “When they saw the truck, they were all waving and clapping to show their appreciation. Brayden, my wife, and I had tears in our eyes, as they touched our hearts too.”
Donations can be made by going to the Facebook pages of fund sponsors Accelerated Health and Wellness, and Daniel & Partners LLP. The prize package is now worth some $700, and includes gas and LCBO cards, massage and osteopathic therapy sessions, gift certificates from local eateries, and grocery store vouchers.
The draw will be made on New Year’s Eve at Pelham Cares.