Canadians who want to send their well wishes and messages of thanks to Canadian troops and their families this holiday season can write their messages on a huge banner in several Sears stores across the country or post them on a special website, thanks to a program being unveiled today by Sears Canada in coordination with the Mainland BC Military Family Resource Centre and the Director General Personnel and Family Support Services (DGPFSS).
The program is called Sears Operation Wish and its goal is to help connect Canadian troops with their families and the Canadian public during the Holiday season. A huge 8’x4′ banner is being unveiled today at the Sears Robson store in Vancouver at 12:30 pm and people are being invited to sign and write personal messages. It will stay in the store until Sunday, December 11, before being sent to HMCS Vancouver, currently stationed in the Mediterranean Sea. Similarly, banners from events in Edmonton, Fredericton, Quebec City and Valcartier will be shipped to Kabul, while the Belleville event banner will be going to our troops in Kuwait.
Canadians can also post their video, photo or written wishes online by visiting the Operation Wish web site.
North Vancouver resident, Bill Morgan, will be speaking about what it’s like to have his son deployed to Afghanistan this holiday season. Major Wade Brinkman, Commanding Officer for Area Support Unit Chilliwack, who has been previously stationed in the Sudan, will be discussing what it’s like to be a soldier away from home this time of the year. Uniformed soldiers are also expected to attend.
“At Sears Canada, we are proud to support Canadians serving in the military and their families,” says Dana Fantaziu, Store Manager, Sears on Robson. “Sears is about families, families in our communities. Sears Operation Wish provides a way for families to be closer together at Christmastime, while allowing Canadians across the country to send messages of good wishes to Canadian troops serving all over the world.”
This is the sixth year of Sears Operation Wish and, new this year, in addition to supporting the approximately 2,500 deployed Canadian troops who will be apart from their families over the holidays, the program adds an element of thanks for the troops who have returned home from Afghanistan and other combat missions.
“It may seem like a small gesture, but these messages do mean a great deal to the 1,800 Canadian Forces members and their families who live in BC,” says Louise Smith, Executive Director, Mainland BC Military Family Resource Centre. “The military in BC has a lower profile than in other parts of Canada and so gestures of support from the public are always appreciated.”
As part of the program, Sears Canada invites those military families who have recently welcomed their loved ones’ return home from a combat mission, to share their homecoming footage and stories with the Canadian public through Operation Wish. Sears also donated $10,000 to the Director General Personnel and Family Support Services’ (DGPFSS) Hospital Comforts Fund, which provides for the care and comfort of Canadian Forces members wounded in operations and confined to hospital from injury, illness, accident or surgery. To coincide with the day’s activities, December 7, 2011, is also Military Family Holiday Shopping Day at Sears, where military family members will receive the Sears employee discount on their purchases with a special discount coupon.
Since Operation Wish’s inception, Sears has donated $50,000 to national military family support programs delivered by DGPFSS.
The Mainland BC MFRC offers a variety of services to military families. One particular focus is assisting families before, during and after a deployment. Currently, there are approximately 100 BC families who will be separated over the holidays due to deployment.
DGPFSS develops and delivers a wide variety of Personnel and Family Support Services to members of the Canadian Forces (CF) and their families. These services are aimed at enhancing the quality of life of the military community, contributing to the operational readiness and effectiveness of the CF.