100 projects: showing the spirit and compassion that make SAIT great
The lights twinkle a little brighter. The carols sound a little sweeter.
And not just for the families who are in need. "Make a delivery or two," says Erich Binder, "and it really touches your heart." His wife, Lynda, adds: "As soon as we started working with this charity, we knew we would always be involved."
For nearly 20 years, Erich (ACT '74, DA '00) and Lynda have been spreading Christmas joy among Calgary's less fortunate families as directors of the Shamrock Children's Christmas Fund.
It's just one example of SAIT alumni caring for the community - and the team planning SAIT centennial celebrations wants it to be one example of one hundred.
"SAIT has a rich history of caring for the community," notes Brian Bowman, SAIT's Director of Alumni and Development. "There's a lot of good being done out there. SAIT Cares is a very important theme for our centennial, and SAIT Cares 100 Projects is a way to showcase that kindness and compassion by completing 100 philanthropic projects between September 2016 and spring 2017."
There are three ways alumni can help SAIT reach this centennial goal:
Lead your own project
Since 1998, the Shamrock Children's Christmas Fund has assembled and delivered hampers full of groceries, gifts, clothes and Christmas dinners - even Christmas trees - to nearly 1,400 families who would not otherwise have been able to celebrate Christmas.
Erich and Lynda Binder are part of a growing network of nearly 100 volunteers who help the fund meet the ongoing demand for Christmas hampers, and they are also working with fund organizers so that some families of SAIT students will be included in 2016.
"Some people have had a terrible time at Christmas, for work, health or personal reasons," says Erich, SAIT's Distinguished Alumnus of 2000. "We've helped them out in the past, they've sorted themselves out - and now, some of those people are our volunteers."
"They say the sun can't shine every day, and some days you feel it never will," says one former recipient. "That's how I felt until I saw the sun shining on my son's face when the Shamrock Children's Fund brought Christmas to our home."
Whether you're already volunteering on your own or you have a great idea for something new, share your efforts as part of SAIT Cares 100 Projects by registering your project online at sait.ca/100 under the 100 Projects tab.
Champion a project in your workplace
Delisa Daniel (BA '97) believes in the universal language of kindness. Daniel, SAIT's Manager, Operations and Landlord, flagged a Facebook post in September 2015 from the Women's Centre of Calgary, which was in dire need of personal items for its clients.
Daniel quickly mobilized her colleagues in SAIT's Facilities Management department - and in short order, the group was able to gather and deliver several boxes' worth of shampoo, conditioner, body wash, children's diapers, toiletries and other items for women in need.
"This is a service that's open to all women in Calgary, and may impact one of our students at SAIT," says Daniel. "And if you're trying to get a job and make a fresh start in your life, let's face it - antiperspirant can be pretty important."
Says Centennial Project Director Cathy Downey, "We know our alumni work for amazing organizations in Calgary, across Canada and around the globe. SAIT Cares 100 Projects gives our alumni the chance to spearhead a project where they work and rally their colleagues to participate."
Sign up for a 'SAITennial Squad' project
For alumni seeking a philanthropic opportunity but lacking the time to coordinate their own project, there are a wide variety of SAIT-led SAITennial Squad activities looking for volunteers throughout 2016 and 2017.
From preparing and serving dinner at the Calgary Drop-In Centre to spring cleaning with the City of Calgary's Pathway and River Cleanup; from fall gardening at the Salvation Army Agape Hospice to building a home with Habitat for Humanity, alumni can sign up at sait.ca/100 for projects with time commitments ranging from two to six hours.
"There are so many great opportunities out there," says Bowman, "to show the can-do spirit and the compassion that make SAIT great."