Ron, Carolyn, and Cara Harris donated $12,000 to the Kiwanis Children’s Safety Village, an interactive education program on wheels, Friday.

The donation, which will be provided over three years, will pay for a new rubber mat. The old one is worn after seeing the feet of about 15,000 children since its 2009 launch.

Orillia OPP Const. Gerry Dwyer said it’s rare for families to make a donation. The project is usually funded by corporate donations.

“This has been the highlight of my year,” said Dwyer.

Glenn McCurdy, Kiwanis Children’s Safety Village committee chair and Orillia Power superintendent, said the village is a unique opportunity for children from Orillia, the townships of Severn and Ramara and Rama First Nation to learn a safety message about such things as fire, electrical safety and bullying.

Ron, who owns two Orillia Tim Hortons with his wife, Carolyn, said the program was the right fit for his family.

McCurdy said the donation to the program will “ensure its sustainability in the years to come.”

Acting detachment commander Insp. Malcolm Quigley hadn’t seen the village until his arrival in Orillia in November.

“It’s a spectacular thing. I wish they had something like that when I was a kid,” said Quigley.

“We’ve come a long way since Elmer the Elephant,” added Rick Fraracci, Orillia Police Services Board chair.

Ron said once they saw the village in action, it just made sense.

“This is a great thing, we want to be a part of it.”

Cara, who is in Grade 6 at Regent Park Public School, got to participate in a visit to her school last year and learned about the safe train track crossing.

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