A Shoppers Drug Mart campaign will help make counselling available to more people in Winkler and the surrounding area.
The Love You campaign was kicked off Oct. 5 and will run to Nov. 1. Previously known as the Tree of Life campaign, this year’s Love You campaign will raise funds for the Pembina Counselling Centre (PCC).
The campaign is aimed at improving women’s health and Shoppers Drug Mart owner Zahid Zehri said this will help with that.
“According to research 74 per cent of women in Canada put others first (when it comes to mental health),” he said. “It’s very important that Shoppers Drug Mart is walking into this area and trying to address and improve health.”
The four week campaign allows customers to purchase and personalize a Love You Shoppers Drug Mart icon which are displayed on the program tree in the store.
Customers can purchase a “leaf” for a loonie, a “butterfly” for $5, an “apply” for $10 or a “blue bird” for $50.
Zehri said the campaign which runs nationally at close to 1,300 stores has local stores pick their own charities.
“For the past 10 years we have been choosing different beneficiaries or charity organizations locally,” he said. “It’s very important to support any local charity that is striving for mental health in the area.”
Zehri said there’s often a stigma for many people who are hesitant to get help until they end up in crisis.
“We wanted to make sure with the collaboration of the PCC that we address this issue and try to increase and improve mental health of the community, especially women’s,” he said.
Staff is very involved in the initiative. “We have around 35 staff members on our team and they do engage with every client,” he said.
While customers can give whatever amount they like, Zehri said he would love to see every single community member take part.
“Winkler has 14,000 people,” he said. “My request to all community members is for one dollar per person. If you donate, we’ll collect $14,000 which is five times more than what we’ve set our target.”
Zehri said they always get great support, and said this community is generous. In fact, statistics show that while the average Canadian donates $300 annually, Winkler residents donate $1,500 per year.
“This is amazing,” he said. “We are very blessed. This community is very generous and always steps up to help.”
He’s also challenging the business community to step up and sponsor a single counselling session, which runs between $65-$90. “Imagine how it’s going to impact the life of the person and how it’s going to impact the life of the family and how it’s going to impact the community and society,” he said.
Shoppers Drug Mart kicked off the campaign with a cheque for $317 for PCC.
Pembina Counselling Centre Executive Director Paul Penner said it’s always encouraging when community members, businesses or organizations help out.
“It feels very special when we get to be a vehicle through which they help people,” he said. “We would like to be a safe place where people can come, talk about concerns they have, and hopefully in the process of doing that, gain insight about what they need more clearly.”
PCC Community Development Officer Mark Sawatzky said people are charged a sliding fee scale based on income.
“No one is turned away because of cost,” he said. “We want counselling to be available for everyone.”
About 50 per cent of their budget is supplied by the fees they charge, while the remainder comes from individual and corporate donations and grants.
“When we have partners like Shoppers doing something like this it’s significant because it’s reaching a lot of people that I couldn’t reach,” he said. “It’s a huge blessing for the organization.”