Reindeer for a Reason has returned: How a Calgary family continues to give back and support the community
Rudolph’s nose is lighting up the night sky again! Reindeer for a Reason is back for another season of giving through festive reindeer beautifully crafted by a Calgary family.
The Williams family started Reindeer for a Reason five years ago.
“It [began as] a school project for my youngest son,” says Jo Williams.
“[He was] tasked with creating something and it happened to be around the holidays… My husband was helping him and they came up with this reindeer.”
When Williams first saw the finished product, she knew they could go further with it and decided to make more and try to sell them.
“That first year they built, I think, 12. And they sold [out] within 30 minutes,” says Williams.
Teaching a valuable life lesson
While Williams saw this opportunity as a way to teach her children about marketing and business, she also knew it was a valuable lesson in life.
“We are an incredibly fortunate family that, you know, we don’t have to worry about where we’re going to sleep,” says Williams.
With this thought at the forefront of their minds, the family began to research charities to donate the funds to in the spirit of the holidays.
Inn from the Cold is a local organization that helps families in need during times of crisis. Williams was automatically drawn to Inn from the Cold as a way to support other families in need.
“It’s on us as parents to show that this can be, not an onerous thing that we do together, but that we can have a lot of fun. And we can use a variety of different skill sets that we all have. We can come together as a community and build this and see success,” says Williams.
Getting an early start
Making the reindeer is quite a production for the Williams family, starting in late September or early October.
While it was Al Williams and his son that originally built the first reindeer, other family members, friends, and neighbours have since joined in creating them.
The majority of the materials are donated from companies around the city.
The Williams family and many other helping hands put in so much work to bring it all together, but the impact is massive.
“[Reindeer for a Reason] has raised nearly $25,000 [for Inn from the Cold] since its inception,” says Emma MacIssac, communications and stakeholder relations director for Inn from the Cold.
“In any given year, we’re supporting 2,500 family members in their path to achieving housing independence.”
Helping those in need
Volunteering and donations make a large impact on local organizations and expand their ability to help those in need.
MacIssac says Inn from the Cold has seen demand for its services almost double this year.
“Seventy per cent of our funding comes from community donations, [so] it’s especially important to either donate or volunteer. The funds raised through community initiatives, such as Reindeer for a Reason, do make a world of difference to families that are either facing a housing crisis or are in need of supportive housing,” says MacIssac.
“It gives somebody something to own, something unique and themed for the holiday. Knowing that they are giving back through their purchase is kind of a win-win that they get this beautiful little reindeer and know that they’re making a difference.”
Reindeer for a Reason officially launched on Nov. 30, and at that time there were about 70 reindeer left. The waiting list for next year will be up and running soon.
“We encourage people, if we’ve sold out, to donate directly to Inn from the Cold because they are such an important non-profit in our community,” says Williams.
Growing and expanding
Inn from the Cold has also expressed how much the Williams family has done for the community.
“It’s been really exciting for us to see this initiative grow year over year and to see the way the Williams family is inspiring others to support families in need during the holiday season,” says MacIssac.
The Williams family is also interested in going beyond the local community and using the initiative to help families all around the world.
“We’ve had interest from other cities and other people who have seen our story that want to do something similar,” says Williams, adding she invites others to make similar efforts in their own communities.
“We’re happy to show anybody… how this works. We would be more than happy to share that so people could take off with this in their own city.”
Instilling kindness and generosity within the community is a pillar for success, and the Williams family has proven how large of an impact giving back can have.
“If we all don’t rise together, then we’re not doing well as a society,” says Williams.
Give back this season and purchase a reindeer here.