It was a great time of year for the SaskTel Pioneers, who donated their time and money to many projects in the city.
The Prince Albert SaskTel Pioneers are a group of retired and current SaskTel employees and their families who do projects to give back to the community, executive member Michelle Ostrowski said.
“(December) is usually one of our busiest months for sure,” Ostrowski said. “Spring is always really busy for us too.”
One of the larger projects they worked on this December was at Riverside School.
“We partner with Riverside School and they chose a family in need,” Ostrowski said. “We get matched up with a family and buy them basically everything they need for Christmas -- Christmas presents, a big Christmas hamper, basically if they need anything, they let us know and if not we try to get all the kids a present they can open Christmas morning.”
The Christmas Ostrowski remembers the most was in 2012.
“We had a mom who was in the women’s shelter and she had four kids,” Ostrowski said. “She had just moved out and had a place but nothing for it, not a bed even.
“We did a fundraiser and everybody basically went through their whole house and we furnished the house from stuff no one was using,” Ostrowski said. “I think we gave four TVs, five beds -- it was crazy. We got Remax to donate their truck so we could move everything there.”
Throughout the year, they also do many projects including the layette project with Family Futures.
“We probably do 150 layettes a year for them,” Ostrowski said. “It consists of a home-made receiving blanket and basically everything a new mom needs. We put in some diapers, include a homemade crochet hats and slippers, baby powder, just about everything they would need.
“It is one of our biggest ones we have to raise money for because it does cost us to do it,” she added.
A third large project is making teddy bears to donate to services such as the La Ronge Ambulance and other northern service organizations, Ostrowski said. The teddy bears are to give to children in emergencies to help them through the tough situation.
They also have helped with the Salvation Army Kettle Campaign, Pineview Terrace Furnishings Campaign and many others.
All of the campaigns they worked on over Christmas went really well, she said.
“They were a really huge success and we had a lot of new people get involved this Christmas too,” Ostrowski said. “It is just as fun to give sometimes as it is to receive but you don’t know what it is like until you are actually involved.”
Ostrowski said they all just want to give back to the community.
“I myself have four kids and I know what it is like when you are in need,” Ostrowski said. “I think we all do it because we love to give. It is just something we feel passionate about, I guess.”
Although they like to give back, it is difficult to find volunteers at times, she said.
“I have been with the club now for six or seven years and it is getting harder to find volunteers,” Ostrowski said. “Everybody is busy and I think that is the challenge we face is trying to find something that everybody feels passionate about that everyone wants to do and has time to do.”
The Pioneers are starting to plan for tree planting in the spring, fundraisers to fund their projects and province-wide “Give a Little Life” book that teaches students about giving.