Local Dairy Queens top fundraisers for national charity

There are approximately 550 Dairy Queens across Canada.

There are approximately 550 Dairy Queens across Canada. But none donated more money to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals — Dairy Queen’s national charity — last year than the 4202 Gaetz Ave. outlet in Red Deer.

In fact, the four local Dairy Queens operated by the Hamill family combined to raise more money for the Children’s Miracle Network than any other group of stores in DQ’s Canadian network.

It was the first time the Red Deer stores topped the national field, said Rob Hamill. The downtown location generated $35,200 during 2010, and the total for the four exceeded $70,000 — figures that amazed DQ franchisees elsewhere in the country, given Red Deer’s relatively small population.

Hamill credits his son Drew, who has been spending summers at the family stores while attending university, for much of this success.

“He really took it upon himself that he was going to drive it. He organized bottle drives and he was on his people in the store to make sure they asked every customer.”

Much of the money was raised through in-store sales of Children’s Miracle Network paper balloons, at a cost of $1 each. But the big push each year comes on Miracle Treat Day, when all proceeds from the sale of Blizzards are donated.

Hamill said his stores churned out nearly 5,400 Blizzards on Miracle Treat Day last year, with more than 1,900 of these produced at the 4202 Gaetz Ave. shop.

“We went from morning till we locked the doors steady last year.

“At our downtown location we had over 900 Blizzards pre-ordered from different companies.”

Hamill praised his staff for last year’s fundraising success, describing how they each donated at least one hour worth of wages on Miracle Treat Day — a contribution he then matched — and pushed each other to sell balloons.

Even customers got into the spirit of the 2010 campaign, with some asking for updates on the fundraising effort.

“It was almost like they began to take pride in it too.”

This year, Miracle Treat Day will take place on Aug. 11.