Last week, I shared with you my wonderful experience aboard Air Canada on my recent trek from Montreal to Dallas to attend Blissdom. When I think of Air Canada, I think of their comfortable flights and excellent customer service. What many people may not realize is how involved the airline is in providing much-needed services to sick children throughout Canada. I had the chance to speak with Micheline- the manager for Air Canada Foundation-about the programs offered by the Foundation and how we can help them meet their goals.
Inside look at the Air Canada Foundation programs
OFW: Tell me a little about your role in the Air Canada Foundation. What does being a manager entail?
There are many facets to managing the Air Canada Foundation. One of them is to promote the Foundation and make it visible and known to our clients and the general public. Air Canada has always been very much involved in the community since its inception 75 years ago, and we were proud to launch the Air Canada Foundation to continue, build on and expand the reach of our community investment initiatives toward improving the lives of children and youth.
These are some of the initiatives that I manage:
Hospital Transportation Program: For some children, specialized medical treatment is not always available within their local community. For their families, the cost of air travel is also an additional burden posing serious economic hardship. With this program, we can help children reach the medical care they need and that is not available in their community.
Every Bit Counts: Air Canada collects small change on its flights and in containers in certain airports and Maple Leaf Lounges. The proceeds are distributed to causes and organizations supported by the Foundation. In 2012, we made an important donation of $75,000 to the Breakfast clubs of Canada for the creation of five new programs across Canada. We also donated $35,000 to Dreams Take Flight, a charity created and managed by Air Canada employees. We confirmed a five-year commitment of $50,000 a year to the Shriners Hospital. We also donated $15,000 to Kanpe a charity that helps children and their families in Haiti. These are only a few examples of how we supported with cash donations.
There is also all the administration and accounting that I have to handle on a day-to-day basis. I am always looking a new opportunities to promote the Foundation.
OFW: What is the easiest thing Air Canada customers can do to help you in your efforts to give back to the community?
There are two very easy things they can do:
1. Donate their Aeroplan Miles to the Air Canada Foundation. With the Miles donated to us we help children reach medical care not available in their own communities. In 2012, pediatric hospitals across Canada used more than 12 million Aeroplan Miles to help children get medical treatment.
2. Ask for an Every Bit Counts envelope on their next Air Canada flight or deposit money in the globes identified with this program. Money collected is donated back to help children get better.
OFW: For parents of sick children, how can they get help through Air Canada?
They can contact their local pediatric hospitals across Canada and ask about the Air Canada Foundation Hospital Transportation Program or write to us at: [email protected]
OFW: On the Air Canada Foundation website, visitors can see photos from your efforts to bring relief to Haiti. What was Air Canada’s role in that relief effort?
Almost as soon as the earthquake struck Haiti, Air Canada employees responded with an overwhelming desire to assist in relief efforts. Many fundraising efforts were put in place and money was raised. A committee was put in place to evaluate how to best assist and properly disbursed what was collected. After reviewing many proposals, we decided to partner with Kanpe. A few months ago, four Air Canada employees were part of a mission to re-build a school, pave a road and much more.
Here are other facts:
In the six weeks following the earthquake, Air Canada
- operated six relief missions
- carried down relief supplies
- carried home children to their adoptive Canadian families
- flew evacuees
- flew aid workers, hospital volunteers and government personnel
- delivered pallets of medicine, IV fluid, rice, water, diapers, tents, blankets, baby food, hospital equipment, wheelchairs
- Worked and collaborated with Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada to support relief efforts in the region
- With the support of Cargo, we shipped supplies for many charities in Haiti
OFW: Donating miles seems to be a good way to help children in need. Can customers donate just some of their miles? Is there a minimum amount?
Yes – it is very easy and fast. The minimum amount is 1000 Aeroplan Miles but they can also choose to donate 2% of their earnings. That is fast and efficient.
OFW: What has been the most rewarding part of your experience working with the Air Canada Foundation?
Being able to help; knowing that we are making a real difference for these children and their families. It is very gratifying and I feel very fortunate to do what I do.
Connect with Air Canada Foundation
This post is brought to you by Air Canada.