Caven Wilcox

Caven Wilcox

Anonymous donor kickstarts pay it forward fund for Langford kindergym

Fund aims to relieve stress for families facing financial challenges

Fall can often be a tough time for parents, as their pocketbooks begin to take a hit with post-summer expenses. It is often a time when families start to get into new routines and sometimes need a place to work off the extra stress.

Ruban Rebalkin and his wife, Faith, took over operations of Tumblebums Play Centre and Toy Shop in Langford last month. After running the centre for about a week, Rebalkin noticed a few parents had their cards declined when it was time to pay. “You could see they were embarrassed,” he said.

In an attempt to console some of these parents and caregivers, Rebalkin turned to the company’s Facebook page. His heartfelt post to parents was a simple message that it happens to everyone and offered kudos to parents for getting their children away from a screen.

“Your bank account, like your energy, is drained because you invested all that you are and have to raise these tiny humans to become good big ones. Your bank account doesn’t reflect you, never will. We totally get it, promise,” he wrote.

“I just left it at that,” Rebalkin said in an interview, adding that he didn’t expect any sort of interaction on the page other than maybe a few likes.

But a childhood friend saw the post and reacted in a big way. “I hadn’t even announced yet that we had taken over,” Rebalkin said, but there was this person he hadn’t seen in years.

That friend had grown up in a single parent household and understood how tough it can sometimes be to make ends meet, a fact that sometimes meant having a payment card declined in a store. “He remembered what it was like as a kid going through that,” Rebalkin said.

In the hopes of preventing other children and parents from finding themselves in a similar situation, that friend came into the store with a cash donation to start a pay-it-forward fund. The money will cover the cost of a child’s play time when a card is declined, or, if someone knows ahead of time they can’t pay, they can also request to use the fund.

Parents can come back and put money in the fund when they can, Rebalkin said, or they can pay it forward in a different way. “If someone is encouraged to do something nice here or somewhere else it would be great,” he said. Other individuals are also welcome to add to the fund as a way to do something nice for someone.

After starting the fund, Rebalkin took to Facebook again. While the donor didn’t want any recognition for the good deed, Rebalkin wanted parents to know they had once less thing to worry about, at least while at Tumblebums. The post received a lot of attention and a few comments praising the act and the idea.

“Over 100 likes isn’t a lot if you’re Justin Bieber, but it’s a lot for Tumblebums,” he said. “It’s been used a couple times after that.”

The worst case scenario is that the fund runs out, but Rebalkin said any good deed done in the meantime is more than worth it. Tumble Bums is at 133-735 Goldstream Ave.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com