The Canada Winter Games taking place in Red Deer right now is not just about the athletics.
The national sporting event is also about creating a lasting positive impact on the community.
In that spirit, while many athletes were competing in the first competitions Saturday morning, officials, dignitaries and athletes launched the Mitts for Many Program in support of The Mustard Seed.
“Seven days a week across our four centres in Western Canada, our most vulnerable citizens knock in our doors asking for winter gear to help them keep warm in our cold Canadian winter,” said Byron Bradley, managing director of The Mustard Seed in Red Deer.
”We are pleased to be recipients of the Mitts for Many from the generous athletes across our great nation and these Mitts will be shared across Edmonton, Calgary and here in Red Deer.”
The program calls on Red Deerians to donate new or gently used mittens to the donation bin located in the Great Hall of the Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre until Mar. 3rd.
Premier Rachel Notley attended the event.
“At its best, sport builds good citizenship. It teaches that good things happen when we work hard and we’re focused and we work together. And we’re seeing a great example of this today through Mitts for Many.”
The winter weather is historically cold in Central Alberta right now, she said, and many people do not have basic necessities like warm clothing to keep warm.
“For many people, for those who can’t afford warm clothing, the cold is an excruciating experience and sometimes can be deadly.”
She called on all those attending the Games — athletes, coaches, officials, parents, volunteers and spectators — to donate mittens and other warm clothing to the campaign during the course of the Winter Games.
Mayor Tara Veer said she is confident Red Deerians will come together to make the campaign successful.
“Red Deer has been faced with very real social challenges over the past few years in particular. In recent weeks, we have also been experiencing extreme cold temperatures. We are grateful for the support of our local social organizations and for what they do for the vulnerable citizens.
“We are now placing a call to our community to add to the Mitts for Many that have already been brought to us from teams from across Canada ensuring that from coast to coast to coast that something the Games are leaving us with is strong social legacies as well in addition to the incredible sports and cultural legacies they will be leaving us with.”