Sears Operation Wish Invites Canadians to Salute our Troops and their Families

Special In-Store Military Shopping Day  Discount December 15

EDMONTON, Dec. 15, 2013 /CNW/ - Canadian military personnel and their families live and work in communities across the country, and the soldiers face unique challenges raising a family while serving in the Canadian Armed Forces.  Sears Canada, through its 8th annual Operation Wish, invites Canadians to show their support for their military friends and neighbours.

Operation Wish 2013 was officially launched today by Sears Canada, in partnership with the Edmonton Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC), the Canadian Association of Military Family Resource Centres (MFRC) and the Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS).  Operation Wish, which began in 2006 when Canadian Forces personnel stationed overseas were given Sears Wish Books to purchase Christmas gifts for their families back home, is a national celebration of military personnel and their families.

"Having served in the military and away from home on extended periods of time, I know first-hand what a relief it can be to know that someone is helping to take care of your family and looking out for their well-being," said Doug Campbell, President & CEO of Sears Canada, himself a former US Marine.  "We are very proud to provide a vehicle, through Operation Wish, to help Canadians show their support for our military and their families across the country. While the program looks a bit different each year, the goal is always the same - to build a bridge between the local military base and the community by providing a way we, as a community, can show our support for our military friends and neighbours."

Operation Wish events were held today in communities near military bases across the country where Sears announced an initiative in support of children of active military personnel.  Sears is making a $10,000 donation to the newly formed Canadian Association of Military Family Resource Centres (MFRCs).  Since Operation Wish's inception in 2006, Sears has donated over $100,000 to national military family support programs.

Sears also introduced an additional fundraising initiative to support the important work done by every MFRC across Canada.  Each year, Sears sells a special, limited edition plush with $2 from the sale of each plush toy directed to Sears Canada Charitable Foundation youth development programs.  A percentage of money from sales of Nate, the 2013 plush bear, will be donated to the Canadian Association of MFRCs for their youth programs.

The community was also invited to the local Sears store to send well-wishes to the military by signing a life-size cutout of the Nate bear.  The cutout, once filled with signatures, will be sent to the local MFRC office as a symbol of the community's support.

"Being in the military, or part of a military family, is not always easy," said Roza Parlin, Executive Director, Edmonton MFRC.  "It's not uncommon for military families in our community to still have a loved one deployed away from home over Christmas. Military families are also often called upon to move a lot - creating challenges of having to form new bonds in new communities. Those are just two examples of challenges. So the support of the community, even in signing a huge support bear cutout, means a great deal to military personnel and their families."

Parlin added that financial support from the sale of the Nate bear is also very much appreciated by Edmonton MFRC in running important support programs for military members and their families.

The Edmonton MFRC provides a variety of different support services and programs to military members and their families. These resources are distributed to military members and their families across four key areas: Personal Development and Community Integration, Child and Youth Development and Parenting Support, Family Separation and Reunion, Mental Health and Well-being.

While the support services and programs offered in these areas are abundant and frequently expanding or evolving, some of the MFRC's more unique programs include Emergency Childcare Services (ECS), iSTEP program, Second Language Services and Deployment Services.

The iSTEP program (Individual Success Through Empowering peers) was created by twin sisters Jerris Popik and Helena Gillespie to support youth currently or previously living with a parent who has an Operational Stress Injury (OSI). The iSTEP program currently works with youth from ages 6 - 12.  In 2009 Helena created the pilot program, which is now the iSTEP program, to "let youth know that they are not alone and that they have it in themselves to go forward in a positive manner.  They already have the specific tools they need, you just have to channel them and they will become stronger."

A core component of the program is the peer support offered from within the group, which helps to decrease the isolation children experience when their parent has an OSI. The need for a group intervention for these children is important to acknowledge that they can feel safe to recognize all the feelings that go along with the changes that occurred in their life as a result of their parent's injury.  The iSTEP program uses the developmental and resiliency theory which recognizes that each child is unique and will understand what has happened and how this has affected them according to their own development.  This program assists children in acknowledging their unique experiences, both negative and positive, and empowers them to overcome these unique challenges and stresses through problem solving techniques, coping tools and resiliency building.

In April 2012 they took the program national and to-date, Jerris and Helena have trained 58 facilitators across the country. 

The Edmonton Garrison MFRC has placed a high priority on ensuring support services and programs are accessible to every military family member who require them.  All services are intended to help boost morale, create a sense of comfort and strengthen the resilience of the family unit.

About Sears Canada

Sears Canada is a multi-channel retailer with a network that includes 181 corporate stores, 241 Hometown stores, over 1,400 catalogue and online merchandise pick-up locations, 101 Sears Travel offices and nationwide repair and service network.  The Company also publishes Canada's most extensive general merchandise catalogue and offers shopping online at www.sears.ca


SOURCE Sears Canada Inc.

For further information:

Wendy Walker
PR Communications Inc.
wendy-walker@shaw.ca
403-813-4186

Alicia Richler
arichle@sears.ca
416-941-4423