How two passionate donors and volunteers have built a legacy for the past, present and future

Cookie and Stephen Sandler holding puppies

For nearly 30 years, Cookie and Stephen Sandler have helped generations of young people involved with the child welfare system access the resources they need to thrive.

As committed donors and volunteers to Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada, they have broken down barriers to brighter futures for countless children and youth, all while inspiring others to get involved and helping to raise millions of dollars.

More recently, Cookie and Stephen decided to ensure their incredible legacy will continue impacting lives for many more years to come by naming the Foundation in their Will.

“Every young person who is empowered to go after their dreams creates a ripple effect across all of society. To us, ensuring this impact can continue long into the future is the ultimate legacy,” says Cookie.

Creating a brighter future by helping young people reach for their dreams

The Sandlers’ philanthropic support has focused on establishing two endowment funds in support of the Foundation’s Post-Secondary Education Program and the Teddy Bear Fund.

As champions of education equity, their investments in the Post-Secondary Education Program have helped this flagship initiative of the Foundation grant a total of $20.7 million to 6,883 students across Canada since 1995 through scholarships, bursaries and other post-secondary awards.

For young people raised in government care, who are significantly less likely than their peers to enroll in a post-secondary institution due to the impacts of childhood trauma, poverty and instability, the Sandlers’ support of the program has been transformational for all those whose lives they have touched.

And as Toronto residents, their contributions to the Teddy Bear Fund — a critical initiative that helps Children’s Aid Society of Toronto and Native Child and Family Services of Toronto respond to the immediate and urgent needs of children, youth and families in the city — have helped to strengthen families and ensure fewer children enter into government care.

Through their extensive volunteerism, including Cookie’s long-time volunteer leadership of the annual Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada Gala — Teddy Bear Affair, they have also played a crucial role in the Foundation’s growth and evolution over the decades.

“We support the Foundation to give kids a chance to really improve their lives,” says Stephen. “Most have had to deal with an incredibly difficult start, but with help and support from the Foundation and many generous donors, we’ve seen how incredibly determined and capable they are of fulfilling their hopes and dreams for a better life.”

A simple way to create a legacy with generational impact

After witnessing first-hand just how powerful an investment in Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada can be, the Sandlers’ decision to leave a gift to the Foundation in their Will was an easy one.

“Leaving a gift in our Will to the Foundation just made sense,” says Cookie. “We love that this method of giving will enable us to continue making a difference beyond our lifetimes, and that our passion for this cause will carry forward.”

Once they had established their donation to the Foundation in consultation with their financial advisor and lawyer, the Sandlers notified Jane Durno, Director of Gift Planning, about their gift.

picture of janeJane, who is about to celebrate her 25th anniversary with the Foundation and has set up a gift in her own Will to the organization, works closely with donors of all ages and stages to help them meet their philanthropic goals through estate planning.

“Leaving a gift to charity in your Will is a much simpler and more manageable process than many people realize,” says Jane. “And for many people, leaving a gift in their Will allows them to make a more significant gift than they ever thought possible, all while ensuring their loved ones are well taken care of.” 

Jane can be reached directly at [email protected]or 416-458-8012 by anyone interested in discussing options for creating their own legacy in support of children and youth involved with the child welfare system.

As for the Sandlers, they feel at peace knowing their philanthropic legacy will continue to live on well into the future — impacting generations of young people and creating a ripple effect of positive change for years to come.

To them, and to our entire community of committed donors, we extend our deepest gratitude.

Like Cookie and Stephen, you too can create a powerful legacy of support for children and youth by including Children’s Aid Foundation of Canada in your Will. Your gift will help generations of young people access the resources they need to achieve their greatest potential –– building a stronger, more resilient Canada for us all. 

Learn more or contact Jane Durno, Director of Gift Planning at [email protected] or 416-458-8012 for more information.