Friday, December 13, 2013

Browne family helps give good night’s sleep to Third World children

As posted on on December 13, 2013.

By Joseph Chin

MISSISSAUGA — Thirty-three years removed from his goaltending days in the National Hockey League, Dave Dryden still cuts an athletic figure, albeit with greyer hair.

Last night, reminiscent of the old days, he was caught in a scrum — only this time he wasn't mobbed by sports writers jostling for a post-game quote. This time he was surrounded by ordinary folks who care deeply for children half a world away.

Dryden was lending a bit of star power to Jim Browne’s fundraiser, held at Walkers Fish Market in Erin Mills, for Sleeping Children Around the World (SCAW), an organization that donates bed kits to children in underdeveloped and developing countries. Each kit contains a mat, pillow, sheet, blanket, clothing, towel, school supplies and a mosquito net, if needed.

“A good night’s sleep really prepares these kids for school next day,” said Dryden. “It’s amazing what a world of difference a donation of $35 — the cost of a kit — can make in a kid’s life.”

Dryden notes that SCAW, unlike most charities, doesn’t incur any fundraising expense. Instead, it relies solely on word of mouth for donations, and fundraisers such as the Browne family’s Holiday Cheer.

What started out 11 years ago as a holiday get-together with neighbours and friends (hence the name Holiday Cheer) for the Sherwood Forrest family has developed in the past seven years into a fundraising juggernaut for SCAW.

“So far, I believe we’ve raised enough funds to equip 650 kits,” said Browne.

Last year, the kits were donated to Togo, a country in western Africa.

“If children in impoverished countries like Togo don’t have the money for a school uniform, they can’t go to school — it’s as simple as that,” Browne said.

The kits, he says, go a long way because they can benefit the entire family and a lot of the stuff can be handed down to younger children.

Since SCAW’s founding by Dryden’s parents, Murray and Margaret, in 1970, it has provided bed kits, at last count, for 1.3 million children in 33 countries.

“My father understood how vital a few hours of comfort and sleep are to help a child forget extreme temperatures, sickness, and pangs of hunger,” said Dryden. ”Every day SCAW works towards fulfilling his dream of a world in which every child benefits from the comfort of a good night's sleep.”

Officially, Dryden is SCAW’s chairman of the board since his dad’s death in 2004, “but mainly, I’m a volunteer,” he said.

Under his leadership over the last 12 years, SCAW has grown to distribute some 70,000 bed kits annually.

It’s this dedication of volunteers like himself that makes the organization successful. SCAW now operates out of the modest Dryden home in Etobicoke. It's staffed by women who have volunteered for decades, and any administrative expenses and the pay of the lone salaried employee is covered by an investment fund Murray Dryden left the charity. Every cent of each donation goes to the cause, says the younger Dryden.

“We want this charity to go on forever,” he said.