It’s been almost a full year of giving time and energy to community groups that matter. Now, a group organized by the Community Information and Volunteer Centre (CIVC) is just about ready to put the icing on the cake for what has been called the Canada150for150 Volunteer Challenge.
It’s the nation-wide movement to get people to commit to 150 hours of volunteer time during the 2017 calendar year, all in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.
No problem, says Tracy Aisenstat, the co-ordinator of volunteer centre services at the CIVC.
“They say that the average person that volunteers actually does about 155 hours. It’s definitely challenging some people to do more but it sure hasn’t stopped a lot of our volunteers. There’s people with numbers well into the three, four, five to six hundred hours. We have one volunteer that’s almost at 1,000 hours. It is very impressive.”
There are more than 40 volunteer centres that are participating across the country. On Tuesday, the CIVC is hosting a timely if pre-emptive party to congratulate all of the people whose volunteer hours it has been tracking since January 1. Right now, there are approximately 180 people who have signed up, with nearly 70 who have already completed the challenge. All told, they have collectively contributed more than 20,000 volunteer hours to various groups around the city this year.
Even though it’s a friendly challenge, early reports are that St. Albert is making a name for itself for rising through the competition.
“We are definitely up there, but Kelowna is leading the way. Ottawa is second … but we are right up there in fourth, fifth or sixth place.”
The celebration takes place on Dec. 5 to coincide with the United Nations’ International Volunteer Day. Attendees must be invited to this private event where there will be cake, refreshments, and door prizes, recognition certificates and a present to all those who completed the challenge as well as a special token to all who have participated. Lia Cole will be singing her song to commemorate the country’s sesquicentennial as well.
As for the Canada150for150 Volunteer Challenge, it continues up until Dec. 31. Anyone can still sign up to participate. Call the CIVC at 780-459-6666 or visit www.stalbertcivc.com for more info.
Bone marrow registry flourishes
Last Saturday’s attendance of 326 people at the All In for Alex clinic was emboldened by the 267 others who had their cheeks swabbed at the Grant MacEwan University event on Tuesday. The week-long 1,000 Swabs events organized by the Canadian Blood Services Youth Committee at the University of Alberta haven’t reported in their figures yet.
The events have been organized to help find a bone marrow match for 12-year-old Alex Pasichnyk, who was diagnosed with a very rare form of aplastic anemia causing total bone marrow failure in June. She needs blood transfusions twice a week just to get by but she needs to find a match for a bone marrow transplant, just like the approximately 800 Canadians on the registry.
Another clinic is set for Archbishop Jordan Catholic High School in Sherwood Park on Tues., Dec. 12. If you miss that then you can always sign up at www.onematch.ca to get your cheek swab kit mailed out to you at home. You must be between the ages of 17 and 35.
Give the gift that’s thicker than water
Canadian Blood Services is urging St. Albert residents to come out for any of its upcoming blood donor clinics during the holiday season.
It offers a special request to people with O-negative blood. That blood type is in particular demand by hospitals because it is the only type compatible with all other blood types, making it used in the most critical situations. It’s called the Universal Donor for that very reason. In an emergency, all patients can receive O-negative blood.
The national blood agency provided information that only half of Canadians are eligible to give blood yet only approximately one in 60 actually donated. It added that nearly 40 per cent of all blood donors stop donating for 12 months or more for whatever reason. With everyone’s busy schedules around the holiday season, they ask that current donors and new donors alike make their commitment to give the gift of life if they can in December.
Canadian Blood Services is hoping to fill 253 appointments in St. Albert this year. To that end, the next blood donation clinics include the following dates: today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the St. Albert Seniors Association, Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the St. Albert Inn, and Fri., Dec. 15 at the Red Willow Community Church from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. Others are lined up in January 2018.
Please make an appointment to give blood by downloading the GiveBlood app, or visiting www.blood.ca.
Food drive in big green trucks and with hockey sticks
Don’t forget that the St. Albert Food Bank is hosting its Stuff-a-Truck event today as a one-day booster for its reserves as we enter the demanding holiday season. People can stop by either of the city’s two Save-On Foods locations – one at Village Landing in the south and the other at the SmartCentres complex in the north – from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Just look for the big green army truck and military personnel courtesy of the Edmonton Garrison. Please donate if you can. Enfamil A+ infant formula is in really short supply. After the last can is collected, the trucks will unload at the food bank with the help of the Merchants hockey team.
And speaking of food donations and hockey teams, the SA736 Knights collected nearly 56 kg of food on Tuesday evening. The Atom blasters even went to the social agency afterward and sorted nearly 454 kg of other donations. Reports are that they had a blast doing their good deeds too.