|Edmontonians Encouraged To Sign Huge Holiday Banner To Send to Afghanistan in Support of the 350 Men and Women from the Edmonton Garrison Serving in Afghanistan this Holiday Season|
|EDMONTON, Dec. 8, 2008 (Canada NewsWire via COMTEX News Network) -- A huge 8'X4' banner featuring pictures of the families of Canadian soldiers, who will be away from home this holiday season, will be unveiled in Edmonton today at Sears West Edmonton Mall at 12:30 as it continues its tour across the country gathering signatures from Canadians wanting to send their wishes to troops stationed in Afghanistan.
Families of soldiers deployed abroad submitted their photos to Sears, which created the banner. It was officially unveiled at a special ceremony in Ottawa on December 2nd. The complete 16'x4' banner is travelling across the country in two sections, stopping at various Sears stores where local Military Family Resource Centre personnel and deployed troops' families will gather to unveil and sign the banner. Canadians can also add their signatures and well wishes before it is reassembled and sent to the Canadian Military Base in Afghanistan.
The Edmonton event will be attended by Don Hannah, Manager, Sears West Edmonton Mall, Laura Keller, Community Outreach Coordinator at the Edmonton Garrison Military Family Resource Centre, Tony Druett, Co-Chair, Edmonton Salutes Committee, families of deployed troops, shoppers and members of the community, who want to sign the banner and send their wishes to the 350 men and women from the Edmonton Garrison who will be away from their loved ones this holiday season.
This national salute to military families is part of Operation Wish, a program sponsored by Sears Canada in co-ordination with the Canadian Forces Personnel and Family Support Services (CFPFSS), designed to help Canadians show their support for the thousands of Canadian troops who will be separated from their families this Holiday season.
"This is the third year that Sears has supported Operation Wish," said Don Hannah, Manager Sears West Edmonton Mall. "Each year it is a bit different, but the sentiment is always the same. It's about families and caring. It's our way of trying to make the season a little brighter for personnel deployed around the world who won't be able to physically spend the Holidays with their families. We're always overwhelmed with support from our customers, associates and Canadians for this initiative."
"The holiday season can be a difficult time for deployed troops and their families," commented Laura Keller, Community Outreach Coordinator at the Edmonton Garrison Military Family Resource Centre. "It means a lot to the families to know people from across Canada are showing their support by sending kind words to their loved ones overseas." There are approximately 2,900 troops deployed in 2008 to various Canadian missions around the world, 350 are from Edmonton.
<< Banner signing dates and locations include: Sears Quinte Mall - Belleville, Ont., Tuesday, December 9, 2008 Sears Toronto Eaton Centre - Toronto, Ont., Tuesday, December 16, 2008 >>
Cities selected reflect bases that have a large number of troops deployed on military missions around the world.
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 online, including a special 10% discount. Copies of the catalogue were sent to Canadian soldiers, sailors and air force personnel deployed to operational missions in Afghanistan, Africa, the Balkans, the Caribbean, the Middle East, Southwest Asia and the Arabian Gulf region.
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. These activities include sports and recreation, health and fitness, family services, retail operations, financial services and, mess management. In addition, the CFPFSS deploys approximately 70 civilian personnel per six-month rotation to Afghanistan to conduct morale and welfare programs.
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.
The Edmonton Military Family Resource Centre serves approximately 10,900 military and family members at the Edmonton Garrison, including 3,100 children.
Sears Canada is a multi-channel retailer with a network of 197 corporate stores, 185 dealer stores, 45 home improvement showrooms, over 1,850 catalogue merchandise pick-up locations, 106 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.
SOURCE: Sears Canada Inc.
Wendy Walker, (403) 813-4186; Katarina Kristanic, Sears Corporate Communications, (416) 941-4424, Katarina.firstname.lastname@example.org