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Ajax, Ont., business owner gives back to families of front-line workers during COVID-19

Ajax business giving back to frontline workers
A business owner has chosen to give back to frontline healthcare workers, putting together kits for their children at her own cost.

Another Durham, Ont., business that’s been forced to close during the novel coronavirus pandemic has decided to use this time to give back to front-line workers, putting together activity kits for families on her own dime.

Dishni Jayasuriya, owner of Glama Gal Kids Spa in Ajax, Ont., says she wanted to do something.

“They’ve been working hard to keep our families safe,” said the owner of the party event chain.

“I thought, ‘what better way to give back to them than to do something for their families?'”

The kits being handed out include a painting set or even a slime activity set where children can make their own slime. Jayasuriya has been running the kids’ spa for the past two years, but was forced to shut down amid the coronavirus pandemic.

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Although she is hardly making any profit, she knew front-line workers and their children were in need.

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“I wanted to let them know that their families matter, too,” Jayasuriya said.

After a careful process, the business owner selected nearly 100 families in the region. The activity sets are all part of the ‘Your family matters too’ campaign put on by the spa.

The campaign is a highlight to customers like Randall and Cher Blackburn. He’s a paramedic in Toronto while she works as a lab technician at SickKids Hospital in Toronto.

“It’s great to see the kids get an outlet, a social outlet and get to be creative,” the family said.

They say taking care of their daughter, Charlotte, while living through these times has been challenging.

“With the two of us working, there is often only one of us home at a time. So programs like this help keep their time occupied, keep their minds occupied,” said Randall.

Along with the kits, Dishni is offering virtual classes, giving kids and families a place to unwind and take part in craft kits together.

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“This is just a way for them to have fun with their kids and have fun together,” Dishni said.

Typically, Jayasuriya’s business thrives on kids gathering together — hosting birthday parties and other spa events for children. But with COVID-19, that’s not really possible.

Over the past few months, Dishni says she has seen a decline of sales of more than 90 per cent, but she gives out these kits for free.

“It’s been a real struggle to survive,” said Dishni, whose business usually attracts summer camp programs throughout the summer.

“From the little revenue I was able to earn, I thought what better way to give back to front-line heroes in the Durham Region?”

Those workers include Amanda McCarthy, an ICU nurse at North York General.

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“It just made me realize how important it is to support local,” said McCarthy, who even gave the business owner flowers to show her appreciation.

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“She’s stepped up just as much as I have, to make sure the children are really being taken care for.”