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RCMP looking to reach a million
by Danette Dooley
Talk to anyone at RCMP “B” Division in Newfoundland and Labrador and you’ re likely hear that 2014 is going to be a million dollar year for the force!
Whether its a civilian, rank-and-file or management employee, all say they are intent on surpassing the $1 million mark in next year’s annual Klondike Night charity event.
Started as a social get-together among a handful of RCMP officers some 30 years ago, Klondike Night has grown into a yearly fundraiser that has raised more than $914,000 for 42 charities throughout the province.
This year’s event was held on March 1 at RCMP Headquarters in the White Hills in St. John’s. It’s the one night of the year when the building overlooking historic Quidi Vidi Lake is transformed into a Klondike casino.
Guests often dress as cowboys and cowgirls as they get ready to boot, scoot and boogie to the live bands throughout the evening.
Whether it’s a feed of moose burgers, cod fish, baked beans, pea soup or numerous other traditional Newfoundland foods, RCMP veterans busy themselves in the kitchen to make sure no one leaves hungry.
After (or before if they prefer) their scoff and scuff, guests head to one of the 17 blackjack tables, two crown and anchor tables, prize wheels, silent auction area or numerous other chances to win. Prizes include everything from artwork donated by some of the province’s most gifted artists to the grand prize of a Caribbean cruise for two.
The wheel spins throughout the evening are made possible by local restaurants, hotels and other businesses, said Helen Escott, senior communications strategist with “B” Division. Escott serves as co-chair and has been helping with and attending the event for the past 16 years.
She attributes Klondike’s success to the RCMP employees who turn out not only on the fun night but also sell tickets, collect more than 300 door prizes and volunteer in numerous other roles during the six months leading up to the event.
“It is a huge undertaking. It’s one of the biggest charities in the province,” Escott said.
Escott says it’s not unusual for families of RCMP members serving in other areas of the country to come out and show their support. It makes them feel closer to their loved one by being part of the evening, she said. People whose lives have been touched by the RCMP also make the event an annual one, she added.
“We have one man who comes every year who was in a car accident many years ago. He hit a moose on the highway. An RCMP member showed up at the scene and saved his life. That man comes every year just to say thank-you.”
Another yearly attendee was a victim of domestic violence. A female member of the force helped her move on with her life. “That woman comes every year just to say thank-you.”
People with no connection to the force also come out to show their support, Escott noted.
When Klondike kicked off in 1983, the initial idea was to hold a get-together to help pass the long winter months. The officers choose Klondike as the theme as it was symbolic of the early history of the RCMP; the force’s intervention enabled the peaceful settlement of the Yukon Territory.
When planning their first Klondike Night, the officers identified a charity to receive profits from the food, fun and fundraising. When the event turned out to be a huge success, raising $3,700, the officers decided to hold it every year.
By 2002 it had grown so much that organizers decided to split the funds between two charities. They become involved in the planning and help ensure the event’s success.
This year’s Klondike Night raised $56,888.26. The money was split between the Citizens’ Crime Prevention Association (CCPA) of Newfoundland and Labrador and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Newfoundland and Labrador.
The CCPA will use the funds to run the Rachel Project – an anti-bullying program that focuses on promoting positive behaviour and a kind act toward others – and to promote crime prevention throughout the province.
MADD NL will use the money to create awareness campaigns and help take impaired drivers off the roads.
Avalon chapter president Wayne Power is thankful the RCMP selected his organization.
“Our volunteers enjoyed working with the committee in preparing for the evening and in assisting with the many volunteer roles on Klondike Night. It certainly was a very fun evening. The results were overwhelming.”
Power said MADD NL not only benefited financially by participating in the project but also had the opportunity to raise awareness about the impact impaired driving has on society.
Programs funded through the proceeds of Klondike Night will include public awareness campaigns, projects directed toward youth and services to assist victims.
“Each chapter will use the funds for various projects that will enable us to deliver programs to our communities that will help us in our mission to stop impaired driving and to support victims of this violent crime.”
Power said the partnership between MADD NL and the RCMP and Royal Newfoundland Constabulary has been strong.
“Many of our chapters are very fortunate to have close working relationships with the police forces, including the involvement of officers on chapter boards. The police forces are a great resource and their support to our programs is very much appreciated. They assist in many of our awareness campaigns and their involvement helps raise the profile of our activities.”
Escott said it’s because of the dedication of employees at all levels that the force will be able to surpass the $1 million dollar mark in 2014.
“We all serve on committees and we make this work every year. It’s a labour of love for all of us and it shows what happens when the RCMP comes together to support great causes,” Escott said.
1 – Assistant Commissioner Tracy Hardy – Commanding Officer RCMP
Kelly Reid – VOCM Cares
Ann Noel – MADD NL
Captain Duane Walsh – 508 Caribou Air Cadets
Wilson Chaulk – The Citizen’s Crime Prevention Association
(Retired) Inspector Leigh Desroches – Klondike Chair person
3 – RCMP Cpl. Ann Noel
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