SaskTel contributes to community through three charity wings Matthew
It has been a banner year for SaskTel’s three charity wings.
Between the SaskTel Pioneers, SaskTel TelCare and SaskTel EnviroCare, the groups donated more than $10,000 to local charities and initiatives. “SaskTel has always been charitable,” said Kristian Sjoberg, president of Moose Jaw’s branch of the SaskTel Pioneers. “We do a lot of donations every year, but this year we tried to maximize our donations around the city and tried to keep everything within the city.” The SaskTel Pioneers have been around since 1947 and is part of the Telecom Pioneers of America -- a network of more than 600,000 telecom employees, representing 82 chapters, that has been around for more than 100 years. “Any phone company, anywhere in North America, all of their people within the phone company are part of the Telecom Pioneers. So it’s an interconnected charity wing within all phone companies,” said Sjoberg. “Every employee donates $5 off of every paycheque into a pool and that get distributed from our Regina headquarters. All of that money gets divvied out to the different clubs.” This year the Pioneers donated $1,000 to the Moose Jaw Food Bank and $2,000 from an education budget that went to the Moose Jaw Public Library. The Pioneers also donated $500 to the Moose Jaw Gamer’s Association’s Winter GAX Fundraiser.
They also were able to donate approximately $2,000 to purchase Christmas presents for the elderly.
“Our project this year was Christmas donations for the elderly in care homes -- people who don’t have family or who don’t have anyone to buy them everyday things,” explained Sjoberg who said they were able to get gifts for 55 people from a couple of different care homes.
Additionally, the SaskTel Pioneers are also donating 1,500 books to the Holy Trinity Catholic School Division and the Prairie South School Division in January to help with their literacy week celebrations. “We’ve also had some educational initiatives within the last year and also project initiatives from our head office,” Sjoberg said. “On top of the roughly $4,000 we get a year here, we also had $2,000 that was an education budget which we donated to the Public Library for some upgrades. “From that same education budget we bought a pallet of books which were given to the public school board and the Holy Trinity School Board. We’re splitting them.”
The Pioneers will have a sorting day to organize the books they received. The books are brand new from publishers that are sold at extreme discounts to schools.
“They sell them us at about 95 per cent off. So we get this hardcover book for $2 and we get thousands of them,” Sjoberg said. “I have about 1,500 books to go through and there’s probably 30 different titles. They’re all brand new, hardcover books that we’ll donate to the school boards to hand out during literacy week in January.”
The Pioneers isn’t the only charity wing for SaskTel.
“The Pioneers is the main one, where we get most of our donations of money. We also have a wing within SaskTel called TelCare. On top of the $5 I give to Pioneers every month I can donate as much as I want on my paycheque to TelCare,” Sjoberg said. “If I donate $10, the company will match 50 per cent. And then each club, each city, gets the amount of money that the people in their area have donated to donate back to a registered charity.”
This year TelCare donated $2,500 locally in Moose Jaw, with SaskTel’s corporate head office contributing an additional $1,250. TelCare donated $2,500 to the Canadian Diabetes Association, $499.50 to both the Riverside Mission and Hunger in Moose Jaw and $250 to the Moose Jaw Humane Society.
Internally, there is also the EnviroCare committee which focuses on environmental initiatives.
This year approximately 25 people from SaskTel EnviroCare took part in their Acts of Kindness Day in the Wakamow Valley.
“We were in Wakamow over the summer putting down wood chips over 200 metres of the Trans-Canada Trail to finish up some maintenance there. We helped them build a deck,” Sjoberg said. They donated $500 to Wakamow Valley Park after their bathroom was vandalized and also donated $500 to the Burrowing Owl Centre.
“That is purely self-funded by bottles and cans from within SaskTel. We’re basically getting a couple hundred a month from that,” said Sjoberg of the EnviroCare committee which has been around for five years.
“That’s one where I wish we could get all of the Crowns involved,” Sjoberg added. “I was on the committee for EnviroCare and I was there when I was founded, so I think it’s our dream to have all of the Crowns involved. Right now they all have their own initiatives, but it would be great for all Crowns to have their own EnviroCare teams... so we can trade ideas.”
Beyond the pride SaskTel employees feel in giving back to the community, Sjoberg is proud of the example their setting.
“I’ve got a little five year old and showing him how to do these things is amazing,” Sjoberg said. “Last Thanksgiving we were driving around and everything was closed and he asked why the firemen were out on Thanksgiving and I said that they had to work. He asked if we could do something nice for the firemen. My five year old asked me that. We went and bought them some donuts. It was something little, but to me it meant the world. It meant he’s actually seeing what I’m doing and trying to live his life the same way.”