The Pioneer Christmas Committee from left: Christine Waddell, Debra Hicks, Laurie Reid, Dawn Sutherland and Darlene Moore.​

Committee puts the MERRY in Christmas!

Pioneer people put the Merry in Christmas 2015 for scores of disadvantaged people, including the homeless, the disabled, seniors, abused women and their children.

Two families with children battling cancer also saw their spirits lifted by the Pioneer Christmas Committee, which raised a record $24,000 allowing it to reach out into the community in a bigger way than ever before. “We want to thank everyone who supported our fundraising activities throughout the year – it was amazing,” says receptionist Darlene Moore, who has been a member of the committee since it was created by Isabel Abbey 24 years ago.

Adds Laurie Reid: “In our first year doing this, we raised $1,000 which for a single family that we adopted through Catholic Children’s Aid in Hamilton.”

Fundraising has climbed steadily through the years, and got an extra boost this year thanks to the Parkland employee charity program. Each year, all permanent full-time employees are able to direct $250 to be donated by Parkland on their behalf. With each additional year of service, employees receive another $50 to donate up to an additional $250.

Employees who volunteer more than 50 hours per year can apply for additional funds that double their total donation amount to their charity of choice. Real Estate Administrator Dawn Sutherland says that enables long-time employees who put in the required volunteer hours to donate up to $1,000.

That’s new money for the Pioneer Christmas Committee which raises money all year long with a variety of events for head office employees including Build Your Own Sub Day, Ice Cream Day, 50-50 Draws, raffles and more.

“We get a lot of items donated that we can raffle off,” adds Darlene, adding donations have included prizes won by employees at golf tournaments.

Recipients of the Pioneer Christmas Committee included: 30 people at Interval House, shelter for abused women and their children; a total of 30 people at Lynwood Hall, Charlton Hall  and Compass Hall, which support children and youth with mental health issue; Food 4 Kids school backpack program; Faith Hope Manor group home for disabled adults; and St. Vincent De Paul Society.

Additionally, the Committee purchased 20 sleeping bags, hats and gloves for distribution to the homeless through the Good Shepherd Centre in Hamilton.

“With the individual families we support, we spend $150 per individual and also provide a gift card for groceries,” notes Laurie. “We get a wish list that tells us what each person wants and we try to fulfill that list.”

Favourites with the younger set this year were toys related to the Disney film Frozen as well as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.