NORTH BAY -- It was a flood of purple in North Bay on Tuesday as the Nipissing and Parry Sound District Children’s Aid Society took part in a province-wide event to help raise awareness about the importance of supporting vulnerable children and families.

“Dress Purple Day really is a day in which we can really think about children and youth in our community, and it really is to bring awareness to our community around the fact that it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of children,” said executive director Gisele Hebert.

“This is a day where we can realize that there’s a lot of families struggling, especially in the face of this pandemic, and really to let them know that we are here to help and support them in any way that we can.”

More important than ever

The Dress Purple campaign has been taking place for decades, but Hebert said with the pandemic, it’s more important this year than ever.

“We have people that have been laid off, there’s huge financial strains, you know, having to, for months and months really, be segregated to their own homes, some of these children weren’t visible and it is impacting ... both adult and child mental health, as well. So I mean, I think even day-to-day, there’s ongoing struggles for many in the community,” she said.

Members of the Nipissing and Parry Sound branch were dressed in purple. Because of the pandemic, however, organizations and community members were asked to support the cause by wearing purple and posting on social media using the hashtag #IDressPurpleBecause.

In addition to raising awareness, this year Wendy’s in North Bay is donating $1 for every post on social media that uses that hashtag up to $1,000.

“The Wendy’s brand supports the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption on a national scale, but we thought it was also important for our local franchise in North Bay to support local families in our community,” Wendy's district manager Kim Hache said in a statement.

“This year has seen its challenges with COVID, but we are happy that we can assist in their dress purple campaign.”

No monetary goal

Hebert said there is no monetary goal in mind, but funds raised will go toward its Kin Families.

“We work, at about any given time, with about 400 families and all in different manners," she said. "We don’t only do child protection, we have adoption services, we have early intervention services, we have youth justice services.”

North Bay Mayor Al McDonald was dressed for the occasion, sporting a vibrant suit jacket he was given last year by the Children’s Aid Society.

“The women and men that work at Children’s Aid do an incredible job to protect our vulnerable children, our vulnerable families and I wanted to show my support by wearing purple to day as well,” McDonald said.

And his purple outfit is quite the conversation starter.

“If you were to look at all the private messages that I’m getting on social media, it’s incredible and it really does give me an opportunity to speak to what it’s all about and how they can play a roll as well,” he said.