© Austin M. Davis
People were encouraged to sign Nate, Sears' teddy bear, that will be on display until Dec. 19 when it will be sent to the local Military Family Resource Centre at 15 Wing.
Not every family gets to spend Christmas together.
“It is difficult, especially on a training base,” said Helen Callis, family support coordinator for the Moose Jaw Military Family Resource Centre.
“Families can spend a lot of time apart; months. Canada’s a big country as well, so it’s not like they can travel back every weekend and see their families, let alone every evening.”
On Sunday, Sears held a special ceremony to send holiday wishes and messages of thanks to local Canadian troops by signing a big cardboard cutout of a bear named Nate.
“It’s nice to see the struggles that they can go through are recognized by the community,” Callis said. “We are really grateful.”
Sears Operation Wish is an annual event. This year, Nate will be on display at the store until Dec. 19. He’ll then be sent off to the local Military Family Resource Centre at 15 Wing for local personnel and their families to read. The program is in coordination with Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services.
“Every year Sears offers this one-day discount in the festive period to military families,” Callis said. “It’s a fantastic opportunity for the families to take advantage.”
She said it’s meaningful to see support from the civilian community.
“It’s our day to honour and recognize our community members in the military,” said Sears Moose Jaw store manager Sally Harnett.
“Every year we do a different theme. We usually have a giant banner that we sign and we ship off to the base,” Harnett said.
She said Nate is reflective of the child-friendly theme of this year’s Operation Wish.
“The military is a huge part of Moose Jaw. We all rely on each other. As retail goes, it’s very important that the community is part of what we do. And the military is a big part of our community,” Harnett said.
In addition to supporting Canadian troops and their families, the program will add $2 from each purchase of the plush Nate bear towards Sears Canada Charitable Foundation sponsored organizations including the Canadian Association of Military Family Resource Centres.