City student soldiers on with card fundraiser for veterans
dave buston for metro calgary
Dirk Chisholm was surprised to find out that many Canadian veterans living in Calgary relied on the Veterans Food Bank for their groceries.
“What (soldiers) did for us was really amazing and the fact that they even needed a food bank was just sad that in a country like Canada and a city like Calgary that it would be like that,” says the 12-year-old Branton junior high school student.
Chisholm, whose grandfather was a veteran, first took action as a Grade 5 student, organizing a food drive at King George Elementary where he went to school, but realized after receiving an overwhelming amount of macaroni and cheese that “an 86-year-old veteran didn’t like Kraft Dinner as much as kids do.”
After brainstorming new ideas to collect the food and personal items they needed, Chisholm came across a poem called Soldier’s Holiday — about Santa visiting a lonely soldier — and the idea struck him and his family that selling Christmas greeting cards was the way to go.
During the card-design process, the bold teen penned a letter to renowned Canadian wildlife artist Robert Bateman to see if they could use one of his prints on the cover of the greeting card — and the artist agreed wholeheartedly.
To kickstart the greeting card campaign, Chisholm does a presentation in front of his schoolmates and teachers, raising the awareness of sacrifices made by Canadian veterans past and present.
Unfortunately, Chisholm has endured some teasing and “ignorant” comments from some of his peers, he says, because they don’t understand why he would care about hungry veterans.
“I think it’s very important for (young people) to respect the past and what the veterans have done for us and we’re free because of them,” said Chisholm.
Last year’s greeting card campaign raised $11,000 — and Chisholm would like to see all of the cards sold this year, raising a total of $30,000.
Chisholm’s mom Alex is proud of her son.
“I’m really proud of him that he is doing it and not quitting,” she said, remembering when they went door to door to sell cards in freezing weather last year, Dirk said, “(soldiers) didn’t quit so we can’t quit either.”
Students at King George elementary and Branton junior high are currently selling the cards. They’re also available for purchase at Hawkwood Medicine Shop and both Avenida Gallery locations, Crowfoot UPS store, or by calling 291-0018.