EDMONTON, Dec. 2 /CNW/ - Canadians are being encouraged to send their wishes to Canadian Troops stationed abroad this Holiday season by way of video and/or by signing huge 8'x4' banners that will be sent to the Canadian Forces Base in Afghanistan in time for Christmas, as part of a special program unveiled today.
It's part of Operation Wish, a program sponsored by Sears Canada in co-ordination with Director General
Personnel and Family Support Services (DGPFSS) with the goal of helping connect Canadian troops with their families and the Canadian public during the Holidays. Now in its fifth year, Sears Operation Wish in 2010 invites, for the first time, the public to upload their video greetings to Canadian troops through a special web page: www.sears.ca/operationwish.
"I have been with our troops in Afghanistan for the Holidays and I've seen first-hand the joy that these messages of support can bring to our men and women in uniform," said the Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of National Defence. "It may seem like a small gesture, but the efforts of strangers to bring military personnel some elements of comfort and home means a great deal to the Defence family."
"Once again, this year, Sears has chosen to show its support for the men and women of our Canadian Forces who are posted overseas and for their families through Operation Wish," said Brigadier-General (ret'd) David E. Martin, Director General of the DGPFSS. "This type of attention is heartwarming and proves to the members of the Canadian Forces that they are not alone during the time of their posting. For this and other such small acts of kindness, we are very grateful."
The site will be officially launched at a special ceremony at Sears stores in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Quebec City and Halifax today that will also feature the unveiling of a huge 8'x4' banner that the public can sign before it is shipped off to the troops. All the banners will be available to be signed right through December 8th before they are sent to the Canadian air base in Afghanistan in time for Christmas.
There are currently about 2900 Canadian troops stationed abroad over the Christmas time period. Of those, a number of soldiers are from the Edmonton Garrison. Last year over 1,500 troops from the Edmonton Garrison were serving in Afghanistan over the Holidays.
"The Holiday season is a season of celebrations and family, a joyous time," said Don Hannah, Store Manager, Sears West Edmonton Mall. "For our troops and their families, however, this time of year is difficult because of the immense geographical separation. The objective with Operation Wish is Sears way to make the season brighter for our deployed troops and their families. We hope Canadians agree and add their messages for the troops and their families to see."
In addition to the special web portal and the cities displaying banners that will go to Afghanistan, there are also banners at select Sears department stores, hometown dealer stores and catalogue outlets in military cities across the country and those banners will then be displayed at local bases. The cities selected to display the banners that go to Afghanistan were based on the number of troops deployed on military missions around the world. The DGPFSS works closely with Sears to get the banners to Afghanistan in time for Christmas.
Operation Wish also allows Canadian troops deployed abroad to play Santa to their family back home by placing a customized order from the Sears Wish Book catalogue online. Copies of the Sears Wish Book catalogue were sent to Canadian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel deployed to global operational missions several weeks ago with special instructions on how to place their orders.
The DGPFSS develops and delivers morale and welfare programs, activities and services to members of the Canadian Forces and their families, in Canada and overseas. In addition to the national DGFPSS organization, Military Family Resource Centres (MFRC) operate at military bases across Canada. They are not-for-profit organizations dedicated to enhancing the quality of military family lives through a range of services and programs to meet the needs of each military community.
Sears Canada is a multi-channel retailer with a network of 197 corporate stores, 241 hometown dealer stores, 31 home improvement showrooms, over 1,800 catalogue merchandise pick-up locations, 108 Sears Travel offices and a nationwide home maintenance, repair, and installation network. The Company also publishes Canada's most extensive general merchandise catalogue and offers shopping online at www.sears.ca.
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Media & Public Relations Manager, Sears Canada