The owner of Willy Dogs is proud to be using his business to help charities close to his heart, raising thousands for local organizations.

A hot dog stand turned community staple has been putting his business to good use, with one of Will Gault's latest charity ventures being a family affair. 

"It is a big thing for us to be able to (give back) and that our business has been so blessed," Will says. "We are becoming a little staple here in our community and it means the world because we call this community, St. James, home."

Concerns about financial instability in 2021 were softened as Will felt the love and support of his community behind him.

Making a difference "one hot dog at a time"

In 2015 Will got sober and often says his hot dog cart and sobriety go hand-in-hand. The Gault family is proud to be able to help others after receiving help themselves.

"Making a difference one hot dog at a time is what I say," Will laughs. "It actually means the world to me. We are giving back to charities that have actually affected us."

Their oldest daughter Ireland is the youngest recipient of cochlear implants in Manitoba. To celebrate her "hearing birthday" in March, Will turned to his take-out restaurant, raising $800 for the surgeon's team last month.

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"We are ever so grateful for what they have done for Ireland and we know we could never pay them back for that miraculous surgery."

He says they will continue to do this every March.

This is not the first time Will has used Willy Dogs to raise funds for organizations close to his family's heart. Since December he and his community partners have raised $4,000 so far for organizations including Two Ten Recovery Inc. and now Bruce Oak Recovery.

"These places have helped our family, helped me personally, and it is something that I definitely want to keep doing."

He says he is speechless to explain how much it means to him to have his community help support organizations near and dear to his family. 

Expanding the family business

Will is moving out of the Deer Lodge Curling Club next week, preparing to set up at the spot he calls home on Tache Avenue, just outside of St. Boniface Hospital, where he will be starting around April 9.

Truly a family business, Will's next move is purchasing a second cart, and including his father-in-law in the family business.

"My father-in-law, who has been a big part of this business who helped build the original cart is retiring so I thought of a way to give back to him also was to buy another cart and give him a little bit of retirement security."

The second cart will be in the Waverly industrial area, but he is uncertain of exactly where, saying they are the "stereotype of a local business" and would not change that.

Along with business from the street, Will has been asked to cater a list of events this summer. 

He says last year has prepared them to assure their carts are COVID-19 safe, something needed for the cart often frequented by health professionals.