“It’s in our DNA,” Denise Heffron, Transat’s V.P. National Sales & Commercial says when asked about the various charitable initiatives the company undertakes. From supporting Cuban artists with art supplies to bringing over 10,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, the company is involved in an impressive array of good works.
“Children’s Wish and SOS Children’s Villages are our 2 largest initiatives, and we work to fundraise for them all year,” Denise told me. “Through our Small Change Big Hearts program we encourage our passengers to donate leftover change of any currency on board our aircraft. Since 2004 we’ve raised $5 million doing that – and the money is split between the 2 charities.”
Children’s Wish also gets a big boost from TS on its annual Santa flights for families in YVR, YYZ and YUL – as featured in a story recently on Open Jaw.
SOS is an international charity founded in Europe after World War II to provide homes for orphaned and abandoned children. Today they operate 560 villages in over 130 countries around the world. But unlike large, institutionalized facilities, the villages feature individual homes accommodating 5 to 10 children, each with its own “mother” who has received extensive training in child care, nutrition and more. The villages also feature schools and clinics which are open to the wider community.
“We support 17 villages in 9 of the countries we fly to,” Heffron told me. “I think SOS is an amazing organization – it’s important to know that we have an impact and many of these children go on to lead successful and fulfilled lives.” The company will also step up to the plate for SOS to help out in an emergency, as it did last year raising $33,000 towards SOS relief in Nepal after the earthquake. In all, TS has contributed over $2 million to SOS in the past 7 years.
While Transat staffers don’t get hands-on at SOS villages, the company has supported employees who wish to travel for humanitarian work with paid leave. And every fall the company also has staff fundraisers with silent auctions and personal donations and the funds raised are matched by Transat. As Heffron says, “It’s what we do, even in tough times.”
Transat Tours President Annick Guerard delivers a bicycle at an SOS Village