When I was asked to blog in December, I was excited because I believed it would give us a chance to share what the Spirit of Christmas is like at Cedarglen Homes. Unfortunately, no matter how I started, it sounded like a cliché. Instead, I want to share with you a few of our experiences over the past few years.
As a corporation, we are solicited regularly to donate to various charities, community events, groups, and sports teams. All are deserving. The hardest part is deciding who and how much do we support. One of the biggest questions we ask in this process is how will the funds be used and how much of it will actually change the lives of individuals who need a hand? So a few years ago, we decided we needed a grassroots approach. That is, we wanted to make sure that every dollar we donated made it to the people who needed it most. We approached our employees, trades and suppliers and put forward this Christmas challenge:
We have faith that people want to help others in need. At Cedarglen, we need your help in assisting those less fortunate. The challenge is to find someone in need during the Christmas season, spend up to $500 to purchase and deliver a gift for them or their families, so that their Christmas will have a special meaning. A short note describing what this moment did for you and those you assisted would be greatly appreciated. Please send in your total receipts for reimbursement.
Our mission is simple. Our hope is that this will kick-start the spirit of giving and goodwill in our community. Here are some of the results from last year’s project:
“The money has been donated to a family where the single and trying to raise four children. Her oldest son is attending the University of Calgary and also holds down a part-time job to help support the whole family. Student loans are the only way he is paying for tuition and books. We’ve decided to help our the oldest son directly and have provided him with a gift certificate to the University of Calgary bookstore.”
“I grew up in a low-income household, so I know that the holidays can be extremely hard on families in this position. With the money, I purchased several gift cards that I placed in mailboxes along with a Christmas card in the neighbourhood I grew up in.”
“With our $500.00, we were able to buy enough food for two families and gifts for the parents and children for Christmas. Now we are proud to be part of the Cedarglen family, as that is what it is… a family. Cedarglen not only supports houses, but homes… and while a business, Cedarglen puts forth the effort to take care of the community in which it builds.”
“With a portion of the money, we gathered family and friends, and spent a weekend baking goodies, which our local church gave our to needy families in surrounding communities.”
“I bought decorations, lights and a Christmas tree for an elderly woman that lost her husband a few months earlier. The husband used to be the one to decorate every year at their home, but with him not being around this year, she hadn’t decorated the house. One day I went over to her house and strung up lights outside. When she arrived, she was overjoyed and so thankful that I had come to help her out. I then showed her the Christmas tree I bought for her and she couldn’t stop crying. I assembled the tree in her home and we spent the evening decorating it.”
We have a binder full of these letters. And to get some inspiration for this blog, I sat down and read them all. Word to the wise, don’t do this unless you are prepared for a humbling experience. It made a difference. It is making a difference. It’s initiatives like these that make me proud to be part of the Cedarglen team. As I proof read this blog, I wonder how often corporations have used the words:
These are the words we want to leave you with this Holiday Season.
Have a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!