November 2010

(Hamilton) More than $400,000 has been raised locally to help support military families and soldiers in south-western Ontario, including Hamilton and Burlington. The money comes from the proceeds of the "Operation Yellow Ribbon" benefit held November 11th in the armouries on James Street North. It will be divided between the south-western Ontario Military Family Resource Centre (MFRC) and the Thirteenth Regiment Foundation, the charitable off-shoot of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.

"The success of the evening was due to the major contributions of our sponsors" said Tim Hogarth, Honorary Lieutenant-Colonel of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry, which hosted the gala. "Knowing who this was for, more than 24 major corporate and private sponsors, lead by the Royal Bank of Canada and Pioneeer Petroleums, stepped up to the plate to honour and support our soldiers and their families." Hon. Lt.-Col. Hogarth is also the president and CEO of Pioneer Petroleums.

Vince Isber, RBC’s Regional Vice President for Greater Hamilton was pleased with the outcome of the event. "It is about supporting the troops and their families, and recognizing the sacrifice they make". Isber added, "It is definitely one of the more memorable and meaningful events I have attended for RBC."

The fund-raising event, which featured military displays and bands as well as a solo from noted tenor Michael Burgess, means a lot to soldiers and their families, said Gary Willaert, executive director of the south-west Ontario Military Family Resource Centre. "When a soldier is deployed in Afghanistan or one of the many other Canadian Forces overseas missions, they are in no position to help their family in an emergency," noted Willaert, who is himself a soldier. "This money will allow the MFRC to continue their mission to aid those in uniform and their loved ones."

It’s not just the financial aid, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Dan Stepaniuk, the commanding officer of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry with two overseas tours of duty. "The $400,000 is a very large amount of money," he notes. However, he adds, "It’s the fact that so many community and corporate leaders stepped up to make this happen. That is a huge morale boost to our soldiers overseas, knowing their families here will be helped should they need it."

More than two dozen major corporate and private sponsors, spearheaded by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and Pioneer Petroleums, came together to support the event. In addition, 40 RBC and Pioneer Petroleums outlets in the greater Hamilton-Halton area ran customer appeal campaigns. They are offered special "Support Our Troops" yellow ribbon lapel pins in return for $3.00 donations and large magnetic decals for $5.00 donations. This campaign ran from November 1 - 14.

The south-western Ontario MFRC is a not-for-profit, charitable organization dedicated to enriching the quality of life for military families across south-western Ontario, including Hamilton and Burlington. Soldier on operations aren’t in a position to readily provide assistance to the family left behind in the event of an emergency. National Defence is not always able to offer the required support, so the MFRC, in addition to its regular programme, can step in and look after immediate needs. They will see the family through the urgent early stages of the problem and find other resources for continuing aid.

The Thirteenth (XIII) Regiment Foundation is a charitable organization established to support the families and soldiers of The Royal Hamilton Light Infantry (RHLI), and preserve and maintain the heritage and traditions of Hamilton-Burlington’s oldest infantry unit. The RHLI, which began in 1862 as the Thirteenth Regiment, marks their 150th anniversary in 2012.