ENWIN’s Grass Roots Initiative helps Sunflowers 4 Smiles meet donation goals

October 8, 2021

Windsor, ON: Ashley Rocheleau started Sunflowers 4 Smiles, to raise $5,000 in donations for Ronald McDonald House Windsor. With help from ENWIN’s Grass Roots program, she exceeded her goal.

Sunflowers 4 Smiles raised $4,217.03 in public donations. ENWIN’s Grass Roots Program matched for $1,000 to bring the total up to $5,217.03.

Rocheleau says she teamed up with her aunt to start Sunflowers 4 Smiles by planting about 31,000 sunflower seeds on her grandparent’s farm.

While her grandparents normally used the farm to grow crops, last year they offered an acre of their farmland to plant sunflowers and allow visitors to view the field for a cash donation that would go towards Ronald McDonald House Windsor.

A group of people sitting on the ground holding a signPhoto: Ashley Rocheleau (left) with her grandparents and aunt (right) at their sunflower field in Cottom, Ontario.













“My husband and I used to go for day trips to see sunflower fields,” says Rocheleau. “They quickly became my favorite flower, and I wanted to share this little slice of happiness with visiting families while also contributing to a great cause.”

Ronald McDonald House Windsor is part of the Southwestern Ontario chapter and opened in 2016 at the MET Campus of Windsor Regional Hospital. It is designed to keep families close to children receiving medical care.

“Sunflowers 4 Smiles continues to make an impact raising support and awareness for Ronald McDonald House Windsor within the Essex community,” says Christine Richer, Sr. Manager of Ronald McDonald House Windsor. “Community fundraisers are integral to funding our House programs and we are extremely grateful for this donation, alongside the matching gift from ENWIN Utilities, which will help us continue to provide families with all the comforts of home directly inside the hospital.”

This year’s Sunflowers 4 Smiles campaign ran for only three weeks, but Rocheleau says it takes five months of preparation before the field is ready for the public. Despite the hardship, to Rocheleau it is all worthwhile.

“We have had many families visit the field and share their stories of how special Ronald McDonald House is to them and how it helped keep their families together,” says Rocheleau. “Moments like those made the hard work we put into the field all the more worthwhile.”