It’s always a good time of year to help out a worthy cause, but around the holiday season, it’s particularly helpful.

Weyburn’s Emergency Medical Services spent a full day outside of the Wholesale Club on December 20th, collecting food for the Salvation Army Food Bank just in time for Christmas.

It was the third year for the 'Pack the Back' initiative, which was started by Paramedic Stephanie Schmidt. She said the event has been a success every year it has taken place.

“Every year they’ve made this fundraiser such a big success I know there are tons of fundraisers going on all the time, but people here are always willing to give, and it’s such a great community to be in,” she said. “Given the time of year, people are always willing to donate a little bit more, but with all the fundraisers that I’ve done in the past in Weyburn, everyone in the community is always so willing to donate, even with the tough times that we’re going through financially right now.”

Schmidt said cash donations this year were surprising.

“This year we actually got just under a thousand dollars in cash donations,” she said. “We don’t typically advertise we take cash donations so it was actually surprising to get that much this year.”

She said the ambulance vehicle was also completely loaded up with items, including toilet paper, canned foods, and foods for school lunches.

“It was literally packed. As soon as we opened either door, stuff started falling out, so for the third year in a row, you couldn’t fit another can of food in there. It was packed to the top,” she said. “We had a few fresh donations this year, even a couple of turkeys.”

Schmidt said the event each year has demonstrated the generous support of the community.

She explained how the ‘Pack the Back’ event began.

“I had seen some other ambulance services do something similar, and I actually approached Janelle at the Weyburn Wholesale and asked what she thought of it, and she thought it’d be a great idea, and it turned out to be something that the community completely supported and it’s worked out very well ever since,” she said.

She added it’s never a challenge to have volunteer help for the cause.

“We’re always looking for different ways to help the community and everyone’s usually on board to do whatever we can and it’s usually pretty easy to get people to volunteer for it,” said Schmidt.

She noted the Wholesale Club sends employees each year to help unload at the Salvation Army. They also have reliable help from the Weyburn Red Wings.

The timing could not be better, for the local Salvation Army Food Bank at this time of year does require being restocked.

“It’s kind of nice to help them restock,” she said. “It’s definitely a great feeling that we all love to support.”

packthebackkidChildren enjoy being part of the giving process (photo courtesy of Stephanie Schmidt).

packthebackkiddoGiving is fun for all ages (photo courtesy of Stephanie Schmidt).

packgthebackThe ambulance was filled to the top with donation items (photo courtesy of Stephanie Schmidt).

packbackdoorThe door was barely able to close due to the ambulance being packed on December 20th (photo courtesy of Stephanie Schmidt).

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