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Western surprises families by covering spring activity fees

High River-based company supports ongoing flood relief by covering more than $165,000 in registration fees for local children

High River families were the recipients of a surprise donation on Saturday, March 8 when they visited the town’s annual spring registration day to sign their children up for sports and other activities. The Western Communities Foundation, the charitable arm of Western Financial Group (Western), and its parent company, Desjardins Group covered the registration fees for one activity for each child, to ensure that any remaining financial burden caused by the flood would not prohibit children from participating in activities that they love.

As a High River-based company, Western and its employees have experienced the devastation of the 2013 flood first-hand, and have seen the ongoing effects the flood has had on the community. This donation to the Town of High River was made possible by contributions from Western, Desjardins, and Western employees, and totaled more than $165,000. The surprise donation allowed more than 950 children to register for recreational activities including soccer, lacrosse, scouts and swim club.

“Through all the change and growth, High River has and will continue to be our home. Not only is our head office based here, but the families of our employees live here and some of their children will be registering for these sports and activities,” said Jeff Burke, president and CEO of Western. “Following the floods, we wanted to continue to play a role in helping to return High River to the community.”

“The last eight months have been both emotionally and financially challenging for many families in High River, children included. Many have lost their homes or been displaced, and these activities offer families a sense of normalcy and fun after a tough year,” said Craig Snodgrass, mayor of the Town of High River. “Allowing children to enjoy these activities without the financial burden is a wonderful gift. We are extremely grateful to the Foundation, Desjardins and to Western employees for their continued generosity. Scott Tannas started Western Financial Group as a High River business and it will always be a High River business. High River is truly rebuilding High River.”

“We’re thrilled to make this donation to the High River community,” said Monique F. Leroux, chair of the board, president and CEO of Desjardins Group. “We hope this donation will lift some of the financial burden from families, and help continue the sense of community by making activities accessible to all children.”

The donation comes as part of a series of relief efforts made by Western and Desjardins in the aftermath of the flood. In December 2013, the organizations donated $100,000 to rebuild the playgrounds at Spitzee Elementary School, École Joe Clark School and the Holy Spirit Academy. This winter, the Western Communities Foundation donated another $10,000 through the Town of High River to help High River families take care of their heating and electric bills to relieve post-holiday financial stress.

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