Bags of comfort and joy

By Geoff Lee

December 22, 2016 11:13 AM

100 filled backpacks will be put to good use

The Lloydminster Hospital donated some items of comfort and joy to help the homeless and others in need during the holiday season.

Staff and physicians presented more than 100 backpacks filled with items of warmth, hygiene and nutrition to The Olive Tree in Conference Room No. 1 at the hospital on Dec. 20.

“It’s such a blessing and the only way we work is to have the community come together and pour back out into the community,” said Terra Lorenz, seniors outreach worker at The Olive Tree.

The packs are filled with everything from toothpaste and socks to granola bars and will be distributed at The Olive Tree’s Christmas supper at Southridge Community Church on Dec. 23.

“So to have this resource at our fingertips when we see a family or a child we are partnering with to be able to give them this is amazing,” said Lorenz.

Lorenz said it’s not just homeless people that are in need this year with the downturn in the economy also hitting others hard.

“I think especially with the change in the economy here, it’s not always the homeless that are in need right now,” said Lorenz.

“There’s people that were middle class, but are struggling right now because they lost jobs so the needs have really grown.”

The Olive Tree is a not for-profit charity created to reconnect isolated people and families to communities of support by providing human services in the areas of homelessness, hunger relief and education.

Lorenz said any item donated is one less thing those in need have to buy and maybe some people can’t buy anything that went into the backpacks.
“So when you have this boost you just feel a wow from the community and you realize you are not alone,” she said.

The Olive Tree charity was picked by the Lloydminster Hospital group after researching the good work that they do.

“It really branches out into many avenues of individuals in our community, so we thought what better organization to give back to,” said Teena Appleton, confidential secretary, Prairie North Health Region.

Appleton explained the goal of filling 100 backpacks came from a staff brainstorming session on how to give back during Christmas when the spirit of giving is in effect.

“So we just rolled it out with our managers and the employees and everyone was very generous in giving many items,” said Appleton.

He noted that some businesses in town worked together with her group to provide backpacks as well as the physicians.

“It really came together well—in fact we are in surplus of our 100 backpack goal, so it really turned out well,” said Appleton.

Angela Bodnar, executive secretary Prairie North Region, and David Fan, the organization’s CEO, were also in attendance to applaud the presentation in a photo op.

The Prairie North hospital workers picked the contents to fill up the backpacks based on the needs of the clients served by The Olive Tree.
“We just decided something warm, something nutritious, some health hygiene items would be beneficial to them,” said Appleton.

“We just don’t want anyone out in the cold without a scarf or mitts or a toque—with some new items in their backpack—there’s a little bit of everything in there.”

Appleton said the opportunity to play Santa Claus was great speaking for everyone who helped with the campaign at the hospital.

“The generosity of our staff is second to none,” she said.

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