I took my good-deeding to the next level today. Got out of my comfort zone, stretched my bandwidth, thought outside the box. No, actually, I thought “inside” the box. The charity box at my local Canadian Tire store, that is.
Yes, that’s right, dear friends. Instead of keeping the beloved Canadian Tire funds that are handed over as a bonus “coupon” with each purchase, I parted with the crisp pink notes and stuffed them into the box earmarked for charity. It was a traumatic experience, as you can imagine.
Now, any non-Canadians reading this might be scratching their heads at this point and asking, “What’s the big deal?”
Let me assure you, however, this was indeed a big deal. Nothing — except maybe singing our national anthem while taking a bath in maple syrup — makes you feel more Canadian than grasping those pretty green, pink, blue and purple notes in your hand.
After which, tradition holds that you go straight home and stuff them in a drawer where you’ll probably never touch them again. (This ritual may even be included in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but don’t quote me on that.)
Actually, believe it or not, in a frenzy of bizarre organization a while back, I gathered up about 10 years’ worth of CT cash and … are you ready? … bought a microwave — ENTIRELY WITH CANADIAN TIRE MONEY! Yes, you heard me. I bet you thought that was an urban legend.
So, standing there at the cash register today and deciding to part with the Canadian Tire cash gave me a funny feeling, but ultimately a good feeling. I’ve seen the charity box before but always walked right past it.
Turns out, the funds collected go to a very good cause — Foundation for Families. Through this foundation, Canadian Tire sponsors a Community Crisis program that funds women’s shelters, food banks, and other community initiatives. They also fund a Regional Disaster Program that helps out areas struck by catastrophic weather and other disasters.
Here are a few fascinating facts about Canadian Tire Money that you can dazzle your friends with at the next strawberry social or demolition derby:
• Canadian Tire ‘Money’ was introduced as a “cash bonus coupon” in 1958 in the first Canadian Tire Gas Bar in Toronto. It was developed in response to the promotional activities of the major oil companies, which were giving away dishes and toasters to their customers.
• 1961 marked the birth of a well-known Scotsman, Sandy McTire, a character that now appears on each note. These early coupons were printed on genuine bank note paper by the British American Bank Note Company. Because the coupons felt like real money, people were, and still are, reluctant to throw them away.
• Each series of new Canadian Tire ‘Money’ is catalogued, tracked, collected and even hoarded by people not just in Canada, but around the world.
Despite this last factoid, I think I’ll clear out the wads I’ve been hoarding and bring them into Canadian Tire next time I visit… well, the wrinkled bills anyway….