One instructor reflects on the holidays


The civil engineering technology department has a tradition that they share with their students every year before the holidays.

Robin Hutchinson, a structural engineering instructor, calls the Salvation Army to sponsor two large families with a minimum of six children each for a Christmas Hamper. The staff then spread the news to the 590 students and give them a challenge to donate for the cause.

Students bring in non-perishable food items, cash donations, children’s clothing, and unwrapped toys. We make this a friendly competition. Whichever class donates the most will be awarded with a free breakfast served by our department chair, Shari Bielert, as well as Nancy Wheatley, dean of school of construction and engineering technologies.

This tradition started 16 years ago when a colleague of ours, Gary Giesbrecht, came up with the idea. When he passed away three years ago, the staff kept up his tradition. We now name this event “Gary’s Annual Holiday Hamper” in honour of our colleague.

Every year the holiday hamper was a huge success. Boxes and bags of foods and toys are lined against our office walls. We start to stockpile items in corners of staff offices, and any other crook and cranny we can find.

This year, we had one class in particular that took the spirit of giving to new heights.

The third year construction management degree program class raised over $3000 in contributions toward the cause. They collected donations from past and present employers to run a daily silent auction. Their instructor, Mr. Darryl Hammond, donated some electronics and a Winnipeg Jets jersey for auction. To keep the class motivated, he gave out Manitoba Moose hockey tickets. The class collected further money from selling 50/50 tickets amongst themselves.

Their innovative fundraising has made this year’s hamper campaign the most successful. All the students felt good about participating in a worthwhile cause. They decided to target their donations to buying baby formula for Winnipeg Harvest.

The civil engineering department recognizes their devotion and thanks them profusely for their large contribution. This class has demonstrated a strong motivational drive that has raised the bar, and we look forward to exceeding our contributions in the following years.