TORONTO, Dec. 3 /CNW/ - Canadians are being encouraged to send their best wishes to Canadian troops who will be away from their families over the Holidays by signing or adding their artwork to huge 8'X4' banners, featuring drawings from local military family kids, to be unveiled in Toronto and other cities across the country today.
As part of Sears Operation Wish, a program sponsored by Sears Canada in co-ordination with the Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services (CFPFSS), the banners will be unveiled at special ceremonies at Sears stores in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton, Quebec City and Halifax (at 12:30 p.m. local time). They will be available to be signed right through the weekend before they are sent to Afghanistan in time for Christmas.
In Toronto, the banner will be located at the Sears Toronto Eaton Centre store. It features approximately 25 drawings by 3 to 15 year-old children of local soldiers who are stationed abroad. A few weeks ago at the military daycare centre and teen centre at the Downsview base, the kids pulled out their crayons and drew what they felt was a meaningful Holiday season expression to the troops. Canadians are now being asked to fill in the rest of the banner with their wishes - either in the form of words or art.
"Sears Operation Wish is designed to help Canadians show their support for the thousands of Canadian troops who will be away from their families and loved ones this Holiday season," said Lt. Dwayne Hobbs, Chair of the Board of Directors, Toronto Military Family Resource Centre (TMFRC) and a former deployed soldier. "I can tell you from experience that it means a great deal to our troops when they receive well wishes from people back home. On behalf of the troops, I want to thank people for taking the time to add their wishes. I know they'll be well received."
Among those joining Lt. Hobbs at today's ceremony include Mike Bulger representing local military families who have loved ones deployed this Holiday season. Many people may not be aware that there are soldiers from the GTA serving overseas. In fact, there are currently about 100 deployed troops from the area.
"We hope that these banners will bring some joy to Canadian troops who will be away over the Holidays," said Dene Rogers, President and CEO, Sears Canada. "This is Sears fourth year supporting Sears Operation Wish. While each year it is a bit different, the end goal of trying to make the season a little brighter for deployed troops and their families remains the same. The positive response we get from our customers, associates and the Canadian public at large is gratifying. If this brings a smile to one soldier's face and helps bring comfort to one family member, it's well worth it."
In addition to the cities displaying banners that will go to Afghanistan, there are also banners at Sears department stores, dealer agents and catalogue outlets in military cities across the country and those banners will then be displayed at local bases in support of the local families. 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 CFPFSS works closely with Sears to get the banners to Afghanistan on time for Christmas for the troops.
In addition to the banners, 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 CFPFSS 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 CFPFSS organization, Military Family Resource Centres (MFRC) operate at military bases across Canada. They are independent 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 196 corporate stores, 195 dealer stores, 38 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.
EDITORS NOTE: Photos of the kids original art session are available upon request
SOURCE Sears Canada Inc.
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