Neepawa Steps Up to the Plate

Neepawa Steps Up to the Plate

FANA raises $18,900 for Tyhpoon Haiyan relief

By Adette Tripon

Operation Christmas Blessing, the Typhoon Haiyan Relief Fundraiser held last December 7th was a resounding success. It is said to be the most attended event that the Town of Neepawa has had in a long time.

An estimated 1,000 people came out for this meaningful cause at the Yellowhead Centre. Despite the -30C temperature that evening, it was standing room only within the first hour.

The organizers, Leanne Crammond, Rochelle Unico and yours truly, in cooperation with the executives and members of the Filipino Association of Neepawa and Area Inc. (FANA Inc. formerly FILTOBA), were amazed at how this event exceeded their expectations. They only wanted to step up to the plate and lend a helping hand to those who were gravely affected by Typhoon Haiyan.

A total of $18,900 was raised in this event, acquired from cash and cheque donations, the revenue from tickets sold at the Rainbow Auction, 50/50 Draw and silent auction.

Through the Canadian Red Cross, the Government of Canada will match the accumulated proceeds from this event to provide for the essential health needs of the typhoon victims.

The Filipino food was prepared by FANA and community volunteers, lead by Ogie Dizon and Valerie Wilson. Pork was donated by HyLife Foods where a majority of the Filipino workers in Neepawa are currently employed.

The children were thoroughly elated when Santa Claus walked in and sat on a big red chair as they lined up to tell him about their Christmas wishes.

Post supper entertainment included a student choir Hazel M. Kellington Elementary, rendered an original Filipino song composed by Maestro Ryan Cayabyab entitled “Yesterday’s Dream.” Students from Neepawa and Area Collegiate Institute performed an interpretive dance as a tribute to those who perished in the tragedy.

Filipino solo performers, Anne Macatangay and Clarissa Bacani entertained the audience with their own renditions of “If We Hold On Together” and “Thanks To You” respectively. The Groove N’ Style dancers composed of Filipino young adults did a special modern dance number.

All the Filipinos in the hall were invited to come onstage and to the dance floor to say “thank you” to all their Canadian neighbors and friends for their generosity. This was followed by a rendition of “We are the world,” to express their gratitude to those who supported the fundraiser. With hands raised and waving in the air, the Filipinos sang their hearts out on the karaoke, while the Canadians beamed at their enthusiasm and tenacity.

The Town of Neepawa also called “The Land of Plenty” and considered to be the “Lily Capital of the World,” is located at the Yellowhead highway at the intersection of Highway 5 and two hours away from Winnipeg. Filipinos make up 25% of the 5,000 residents.

As Neepawa was once a “retirement town,” the integration of the Filipinos into the community has been a slow process. FANA Inc. continues to come up with community activities and consistent volunteerism to facilitate good relations with their Canadian neighbors.

Last Saturday’s fundraiser was deemed as being “unforgettable” not only because of the substantial amount of money that was raised, but also because it was the start of a new and better friendship between the Canadians and Filipinos residing in the small town.

A long-time resident of Neepawa made a comment that best describes this newfound relationship. Ineke Mack, owner of the town’s “It’s Time” apparel store said, “It doesn’t feel like “us” and “you guys” anymore, it feels like “ all of us” now.”