Tag Archives: Charity

Christmas Giving: The Gift That Gives Back.

Hey folks, I know it’s been a while since I’ve been around.  But I decided to poke my head out of my hiding hole for a little while and get on my hickory stump for a bit of an old country lesson.

The theme of this message is… It never hurts to help.

Now people I am not saying that you have to give up the family farm or put yourself in hardship.  But given the things people all around the world are going through it hardly seems wrong to chip in a little in any way to help those that have less than yourself.

It could be a dollar into a Charity Hamper, or a nickel into the that Salvation army kettle with the singing Santa. It could be donating some time to a worthy cause, like serving soup for those less fortunate.  All I am saying is that in this economic climate everything helps.

You may ask Bob…What did you do to help those in need.  Well my friends I deliver hampers to the less fortunate in Winnipeg.
I take a few nights out of my year and grab some like-minded friends and go spread the Christmas cheer.

I throw on a Santa hat and knock on doors for a cause, I don’t do it to help me but in some way I do.  I give my time and my effort for free, and all I get in return is the smiling faces of children who would otherwise have no Christmas.  I get the respect and hearty handshakes of immigrant fathers who have fled war-torn countries in search of a better life.  Not understanding the generous ways of Winnipeg or even the tradition of Christmas.

In giving back to those who have less, we see more than just poverty.  We see the kindness of faith and the redemption of the spirit of charity.

I think that in giving back we can all grow, It does not have to be Christmas, but all faiths can give and become greater.

In the words of my faith Merry Christmas One and All


Winnipeg’s Winter Wonderland: The Assiniboine Valley Railway.

Last night Dar and I took our nephew Eric out for a night of Winnipeg Christmas tradition, we took a spin on the Assiniboine Valley Railway.

Assiniboine Valley Railway Logo

In the early 1980’s Bill Taylor, a model train enthusiast with a large property in Charleswood was doing an expansion to his house and had a vision.  He dreamed of taking the 1000 foot HO gauge railway that he had in his basement and moving it outside to create a train mecca in Winnipeg.

Entering the Assiniboine Valley Railway

A train full of happy people zips by in the night

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Poverty with a human face.

Hi people.

I’ve been a bit absent of late and I do apologize for that I gimped up my foot again and haven’t really been in the mood for self-analysis or writing in general.

However I did come across a blog post that should make you think a little bit over the holiday season.  If you give to charity please mind what you donate, don’t just clean out the cupboards.

Enough of me, I give you Ani from Ani Uncensored.

If you can over the holidays give.

Winnipeg a big city with a huge heart

Well I was going to baffle you all with a April Fools day post today but circumstances this week have turned my attention to something else entirely.

This week two things happened in Winnipeg, we lost one of our own to cancer and we came together and rallied as a community should.  On Monday you could practically hear the city gasp as life slipped away from Alanna Hogue Aiello.  Now I will say from the start that I did not personally know her but to say that I was not acquainted with her would also not be correct.

Confusing I know, but in Winnipeg everyone knows everyone else somehow.  Yes, it’s a city.  But it’s got a small town attitude, when you need something done, you don’t look in the yellow pages, cause your friends know a guy, or you know a guy.  Like neighbourhoods back when we were kids, people are tight here.  When someone gets married the call goes out.  People will start asking, when is their social?  I can’t wait for the silent auctions!  I hope I win!  ( Manitoba socials are large parties held in community halls where family and extended groups of friends spend large amounts of money on raffles and dance drunkenly to Mony Mony while eating cubed cheese with rye bread.)

Alana worked for many years in the local television business, and was married very happily to her husband Joe Aiello, local morning disc jockey on 92 Citi fm.   Together through thick and thin they never turned away anyone in need.  If you had a charity or an event that needed promotion you could be sure that they would support the cause in any way that they could.  Such was the love that they shared with Winnipeg.

When Alanna lost her long battle with against cancer this week, as I mentioned you could almost hear the city gasp. In unison we all cried out “Oh No”.   She had been sick for many years but she fought bravely and with great dignity.

It was then that the crew at 92 Citi picked up the torch and the rest of Winnipeg followed.  Wednesday morning at 8 am they started a radio-thon that lasted a day and a half.  In Jerry Lewis style they defied sleep and hunger to get the word out to the city and the world, and we answered.

Eff U Cancer in memory of Alanna

For a minimum donation of 50 dollars you could dedicate a song to the memory of Alanna.  The list grew and grew and grew.  Kathy Kennedy, news anchor read a touching poem, in sadness and anger proclaiming “Eff U Cancer!”  Thus a  t-shirt was born, from her grief and rage against this heartless killer.  Like the song requests, the shirts were printed en masse and sold out, not once or twice but again and again and yet again.  Still the stores are stocked and the shirts vanish within minutes.

Winnipeg the little city that cried, and raged against this horrible monster managed to raise close to $120,000 dollars.  Fifty dollar donations were taken by the handful, citizens stepped up with memories of their loved ones and donated by the thousands.  Pay cheques and musical instruments were gifted.  People such as I bought “Eff U T-Shirts” in bulk.

Eff U Cancer T-Shirt

It may just be a drop in the bucket and life will go on, but for two days the city, my city, gave back to someone who had given all of us so much.  We remembered our own losses, I toasted the remembrance of my brother, Brent struck down by cancer.  I rejoice in my daughter’s ongoing victory over her leukemia.

We all stopped, we all cared, and we all gave.

Today Alanna’s life was celebrated in a service, I was not there but I know people who were.  That’s just the way Winnipeg is.

Authors note: Donations are still being accepted in Alanna’s name through 92 Citi fm.  “Eff U” shirts are still on sale at all Winnipeg Marks locations for only 20 dollars.  100% of  donations go to Cancer Care Manitoba.

Giving Back

I like to think that I am a very blessed individual.  I make enough money to have a good roof over my head.   I drive a newer vehicle and can afford to pick up most everyone a little something for Christmas this year.  However I don’t think that I will be taking any spur of the moment trips anywhere warm though.

I have to work hard for every dollar that I earn.  Getting up at 5 each and every day to be at the plant for 6:30 can be a grind, but it makes me appreciate each and every dollar that much more.  It also puts into sharp perspective the situations that many in our society are in.  With the economy in the crapper, times are tough for a lot of people.  Even those that may still have a job are relying more and more on the charity of others.

So with that in mind I and a group of like-minded people got together last night to give a little time and hopefully take a bit of the worry out of the Christmas season.  Every year in Winnipeg the Christmas Cheer Board takes donations from across the city and compiles thousands of hampers for the less fortunate.  Ranging from single moms, to low-income families these donations bring a little joy to what could otherwise be a bleak time of year.

With that in mind our little group met up and we broke into pairs to play Santa Claus for some down on their luck families.  My co-pilot Eric and I had never done this before and we were quickly sorted out by one of the helpful volunteers who work in the warehouse.   Picking an area that was fairly close to home gave me a familiarity with the streets but also a slight apprehension that we were heading into one of the rougher parts of town.

After receiving our care packages, GPS co-ordinates were plugged in and we set course for the heart of deepest Elmwood.  For those that are familiar with Winnipeg, Elmwood is one of those rough and tumble neighbourhoods that always seems to make the newscast for the wrong reasons.  Gang activity is on the rise as are incidents of violent crime.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t think the people who live in that area are necessarily bad but there are some nasty elements that come with living in a low rent part of town.

Pulling up to the first set of apartment buildings I noticed that the streetlights seemed to be out on this particular block but undaunted we soldiered on.  A phone call was made and an eager young woman met us at the front door to the complex.  As boxes changed hands I noticed a pair of little eyeballs peaking around the corner.  Eyes filled with childhood wonder at the brightly wrapped package that sat atop the box of holiday food.

The mom seeing her young son peering out from behind the corner waved him forward to meet Eric and myself.  Sheepish hesitation was quickly replaced by curiosity as the boy quickly ran to his mother’s side.  His eyes never strayed far from the present that was obviously meant for him.

A Child's Christmas Wonder

We exchanged heartfelt Merry Christmas greetings and were on our way into the cold night to continue our rounds.  The rest of our deliveries went in pretty much the same fashion.  Young children hiding behind their moms and slightly older ones helping to carry what they were about to receive.  Everyone seemed thankful and if only for a moment the parents, Eric and I shared in the wonder of watching children’s excitement at the coming of Christmas.

Doesn't Every Child Deserve a Happy Christmas?

Now I could go off on a rant about how these parents should be ashamed of themselves and get out and find better work.  But speaking as one who has been in similar circumstances a time or two, I know now is not the time to judge.

This is the season for forgiveness and of family, of wonder in children’s eyes, and of giving.  Christmas time should be about sharing what we have. Digging deep into those pockets and supporting a charity or cause.  If my driving some presents and turkeys to help cheer up a deserving family is all it takes to put a smile on a child’s face then it’s time and money very well spent.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays Everyone!