Kalesnikoff Lumber Company has long history in the community, and this year, employees at the Thrums-based wood products manufacturer wanted to give back in a big way: providing Christmas gifts and meals to 28 families in need.
“Those of us with steady, well-paying jobs are lucky, and we wanted to help out the folks who are struggling right now - especially kids, so we partnered with the Salvation Army in Nelson,” said Brad Mason, Dryside Manager at Kalesnikoff.
Through payroll deductions, the employees raised more than $6,000 in just over one week. The Kalesnikoff family then matched that donation, and the cash was then used to ‘adopt’ 28 families identified by the Salvation Army. Food was purchased through Save-On Foods in Nelson, who also helped by offering a discount on the purchase allowing the dollars to go even further.
“The most we’ve done before is 12 families, so to have 28 is just mind-blowing,” said the Salvation Army’s Val Sherriff.”
Just talking about it brought tears to her eyes.
“I phoned the 28 families to let them know that they were getting a turkey and all the trimmings, along with gifts and wrapping paper for the kids, and their lives are changed,” Sherriff explained. “For them to know that there are people - strangers - in the community who are taking an interest in caring for them - it’s just amazing.
Kalesnikoff Lumber Co. has been an employer in the region for more than 75 years, and for owner Ken Kalesnikoff, seeing his employees embrace this type of giving is heartening.
“We’re part of the Interior Lumber Manufacturers’ Association, and the members are local, family-owned and operated companies,” Kalesnikoff said.
“That connection to the community, caring for the community, is just part of who we are, and I’m so proud of our team for taking the initiative on this project.”
Salvation Army Major Robin Borrows said that the donations are about more than just a nutritious meal or stocking a cupboard for these families.
“It can be really hard for some of these families - many of whom have never been in need before - to come ask for help. They’ve hit hard times, and to have everything from a traditional dinner to presents and even wrapping paper provided just means so much,” he said.
“Being able to give a wrapped present to your child even when times are tough does so much for a parent’s sense of respect and dignity,” Borrows explained.
Kalesnikoff employees DeEtte Mackenzie, Jason Skavlebo, Kailee Woodbeck, and Leila Knauf helped organize and deliver the hampers to the Salvation Army in Nelson. They all talked about the emotion and sense of community pride that they felt in helping out those in need at this time of year.
Brad Mason summed it up by telling the folks at the Salvation Army that they were already planning for next year, and predicting that they’d have even more to offer.
“It feels good to know that this little bit of effort on the part of the all the employees at Kalesnikoff is making a big difference in the lives of these families,” he said.
“I hope more people feel inspired to help, especially at this time of year.”
Photo Caption: Kalesnikoff employees and volunteers at the Salvation Army with the food and gifts for 28 families. — Submitted photo