Thursday, December 12, 2013

West Jet's Annual Xmas Extravagance

If you've spent any time on Facebook this week, you've undoubtedly saw, or heard about, West Jet's YouTube video. If you haven't- here's the low down:
West Jet set up a virtual Santa Clause in the terminal that passengers boarding the plane got to tell what they wanted for Christmas. While the passengers were in the air, West Jet employees then went shopping for each item requested by unsuspecting passengers. After they landed, their gifts were delivered via the baggage carousel. Tears, surprise, and genuine gratitude was displayed by all. A feel good story that has been shared over one million times already. 

Here's a bit of "Bah Humbug" for ya...I hated it. I thought the money spent on this kerfuffle (Google it, it's totally a word) was wasted on affluent jet setters. Do not for one second believe that this was anything other than a brilliantly devised marketing ploy; a clever, and well executed maneuver to stand out, and utilize social media to advertise. For that I guess, well done. 

Let's say that entire production cost West Jet $100,000 (pennies compared to the airplay they've gotten from it)- if they really wanted to use their corporate name, money, and influence to make a real difference in lives during the holidays- or everyday for that matter- they could have spent that money differently. Given an hour, I bet you could come up with almost a hundred different ways. Don't have an hour? 

I do.

1. Give the money to a women's shelter to help pay for therapy, job training, and education.
2. Pick 30 elementary schools and sponsor their breakfast programs FOR A YEAR!
3. Buy an abandoned lot and build a playground.
4. Fund several before/after school programs.
5. Create a dozen community gardens in low income neighbourhoods so everyone can have access to fresh, organic produce.

6. Pick one of the MILLIONS of community centres around the country and help them expand/renovate/innovate their programming.
7. Fund programming at a library.
8. Give all the money to the Dup15q Alliance ( ;)

9. Give the money to absolutely any homeless shelter.
10. Fund a program where retired police/military work within the schools to help with the issue of bullying (enough of this Wear A Pink Shirt To School bullshit- we need concrete solutions, not fashion)
11. Fund Self-esteem/self-worth workshops for at risk youths. 
12. Donate 200 iPads to Autism Speaks (this isn't for entertainment- these help our kids communicate and interact!)
13. Pimp out a Snow Suit Fund.
14. Sponsor an ENTIRE VILLAGE in Ethiopia- bicycles, chickens, goats, oxens, feed, seeds, fencing, irrigation.

15. Donate it to a struggling hospice.
16. Donate it to ANY children's hospice (Roger's House has my vote...and heart)
17. Use it to provide respite to 100 overwhelmed families who desperately need it.
18. Educate a community about alternative medicines.
19. Dig a well in Africa.
20. Start a scholarship for high school students going into the trades.
21. Create a grant for musicians.
22. Create a grant for artists.

23. Pick a crappy assisted living retirement home and renovate it.
24. Back an entrepreneur starting an organic fast food chain (for the love of a God, why aren't we funding this?!)
25. Donate it to a crisis centre.
26. Use it to upgrade a small community's fire truck/pumper.
27. Get a volunteer fire department new gear!

(Aren't they kinda awesome?!?)

28. Give it to one school board and have it dedicated towards more EAs and ECEs in the classrooms!
29. Buy $100,000 worth of toys, clothes, and books for kids in foster homes, and group homes.
30. Assist any number of single parent households struggling to make ends meet.
31. Hold a giant Health and Wellness Expo with free admission!

32. Give it to the United Way (do you have any idea how many different programs they distribute money to??)
33. Create 250 Cristmas baskets for families in need (toys for the kids, hats/mitts/scarves for everyone, Christmas supper)
34. Any soup kitchen in North America would faint over a $100,000 cheque.
35. Fund a program for teenage moms to subsidize their daycare needs while finishing high school, and while furthering their education and/or job training.
36. Create a grant for first time entrepreneurs. 
37. Create a grant to help subsidize rising hydro costs for the working poor.
38. Free yoga/boot camp in the park for an entire summer. For anyone.
39. Give it to four different animal shelters.
(Well hello there!)

40. Create a grant for a holistic veterinarian starting his/her practice.
41. Create a grant for a holistic dentist starting a new practice. 
42. Donate it to a hospital to forgive someone's medical debt.
43. Fund a program that teaches youths about debt, their credit scores, money management, creating a budget, savings/GICs/RSPs/ know, all the unimportant stuff they don't teach in school -,-
44. Make A Wish Foundation.
45. Pay for a service dog or eight...
46. Help fund a small community's Green Bin program.
47. 100 gym memberships 
48. 100 grocery gift cards earmarked for organic fruits and veggies.
49. Habitat for Humanity.
50. Free music lessons to an entire community.

51. Funnel it into an established program that pays for sports registration and equipment for kids who's parents cannot afford it. 
52. New books for an old library.
53. Donate it to a mental health facility. 
54. Wind turbines.
55. Solar panels.
56. Free swimming lessons at a facility. For a year.
57. A fully adapted van for a special needs family.
58. Autism research.
59. An electronics recycling program- pretty much anywhere really.
60. Pick any number of baby boomers who have lost their jobs due to plant closures and pay for their re-education and job training.
61. Create a mentoring program for teenagers after school.

62. Subsidize utility bills for seniors on a fixed income within a community.
63. Create a Mom & Tot play group/support group; pay for it's location and programming for a year. These are vital within the community!
64. Create 667 "Patio Garden Kits" and distribute them in an urban setting. 
65. Create a little subdivision of "Tiny Homes" (Google them- they're awesome) for the homeless to live in while they find jobs, and get back on their feet.

(Tumbleweed homes are my favorite) 

66. Literally ANY small community hospital could use 100 grand.
67. Bet that would buy a new MRI machine...
68. Work programs for the developmentally challenged.
69. Day programs for the developmentally challenged. (Beyond 21 is our local non-government funded post education program.)
70. Pay off $100,000 from someone's mortgage (recently unemployed perhapse?)
71. Start a youths/seniors group: seniors get visitors and learn technology maybe, youths get to learn about traditional skills and lifestyles.
72. Build an Independant gym/stage/study hall that homeschooling families can utilize, share, and socialize in.
73. Go to any job bank and hand out cheques for $5000- help them out while they're actively trying to provide for their families. 
74. Sexual abuse victims. 
75. Browse Gofundme or Kickstart- there are so many deserving causes!!

So, I just deleted an entire paragraph; instead of leaving you with my jaded grumblings on consumerism, media, and the art of distraction, I'd rather you think about my list. What would you add to your list? What would you like companies such as West Jet to spend $100,000 on?  How would your community benefit? How could the global community benefit? 
How can we make this happen...

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