An Okotoks mom was grateful for the backing of her community as she took on a project to acknowledge 2020 grads and support a Foothills area charity.
Koreen Macleod, whose daughter, Mia, graduated from Holy Trinity Academy June 26, set out to recognize all Foothills graduates when she undertook a vehicle decal project in mid-May. The proceeds would go toward Foothills Country Hospice.
“I saw how much Mia and her friends were missing grad,” said Macleod. “If you don’t have a graduate it’s not really forefront in your mind, but it’s such a huge thing, and education is such a social thing they were missing out on.”
She decided to create something to recognize the grad class of 2020, and worked with Julie Boake at Awedity Creative to design a vehicle decal shaped like the province of Alberta with bright splashes of colour that read “2020 Grad,” which was then printed at-cost by Okotoks Tinting. Local home décor business An Honest Room placed a bulk order off the top and the decals were also sold at Cactus Club Salon & Spa.
In addition, Sherry Lindenback of 94 Take the Cake designed cupcakes that included the decal design and raised $850.
Just over 600 of the Grad 2020 decals were sold, bringing in $1,450 for a total donation to the Foothills Country Hospice of $2,500.
Macleod said she was blown away by the support of the community, down to Highwood MLA RJ Sigurdson paying for a banner for the Town to hang at the plaza stage and sponsorship from Hallmark Does Hair, Okotoks Sobeys and Cobs Bread paying for each HTA grad to receive a decal as part of the their celebration on June 26.
“It was a big community effort,” said Macleod. “It’s not just that I did this, we all came together and we did this.”
The charity of choice was picked by daughter Mia.
“The hospice was something close to our family,” said Mia. “My grandma was in hospice before she passed away in Scotland. They are all over and they took such great care of her there.”
For Lindenback, supporting the grads by creating special cupcakes was a no-brainer. She said it was an easy way to recognize the 2020 grad class while giving to a worthy cause.
“The grads definitely needed some attention this year, for sure,” said Lindenback.
Dawn Elliott, executive director for Foothills Country Hospice, said she was thrilled to receive the $2,500 donation from the project and to be chosen as the charity behind the 2020 Grad decal campaign.
The hospice is 65 per cent funded by Alberta Health Services, but is responsible for fundraising $1.3 million of its annual budget – a monumental task most years, made even more challenging due to COVID-19 postponing one of its annual events this spring and changing up the way its fall gala will run.
Hike for Hospice was postponed from the first Sunday in May until sometime in the fall, with an undetermined date. The annual car rally and gala will be done with physical distancing measures in place.
“We’re still doing the car rally but instead of a gala at the end we’re going to go to the drive-in in High River,” said Elliott. “So we’re going to see a movie and they will have the food delivered to their car so we can practice physical distancing. And we’ll have contests for best-decorated vehicle, things like that.”
She said overall, fundraising has been down since COVID, with donation levels down substantially over previous years.
“We’re not struggling, but we’re not in the position we thought we might be when we did up our budget last year,” said Elliott.
The impact of COVID at the Foothills Country Hospice has gone beyond financial concerns. The psychological, emotional and social impacts are just as serious, she said.
Staff has had a difficult time dealing with restrictions, which mean interacting differently with residents and their families. To combat this, the hospice has brought on an additional social worker.
“Our staff is struggling because we can’t give the same kind of care we normally would give with physical distancing and of course wearing PPE, so it’s been a struggle for a lot of people,” said Elliott. “It has impacted us, and it’s not just the financial part, it’s the psycho-social piece, too.
“When you can’t comfort a family member whose loved one is dying, it really takes its toll on the people who work here.”
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