I never met Paul Langlotz, Zena Wolfson, Stefan O. Olafson or Gwen Wilcock, and sadly I never will.
That's because all four of them, and several more I will hear about during our annual Pennies from Heaven campaign, have left these mortal coils.
But while they are gone, they are still helping to feed the hungry in our community during this festive season.
That's because their families and friends have decided to make a donation in their honour to our 18th annual campaign, which supports both the Christmas Cheer Board and Winnipeg Harvest.
And they generously let me know they want the donation to be recognized only in memory of their relative or friend instead of them.
Christmas can be both a happy time and a sad time for many families in our community. There's the joy of the season, but there's also the recognition for many that this will be the first festive dinner where there is an empty chair around the table.
It's one reason why my annual year-end tribute to the prominent and notable Manitobans who have died during the year generates such a positive reaction from many people. They are touched and gratified that the Free Press has remembered and honoured so many people for the lives they have led and the help they have given our community.
In much the same way, when we run our list of donors to Pennies I always try to get the "in memory of" donors at or near the top of the list. And I always make a point of searching our obituaries to learn about the people who are being remembered.
It's an honour I never take for granted that the families and friends of the people who have died have thought of both Pennies and our local hungry at this time of year.
Now it's up to the rest of you. For the kids, I need you to look for those coins to donate them our way. I need you grown-ups to send in your donations, too, whether in coins, bills or cheques.
You have to move fast now because Christmas is little more than a week away. We need your help now.
Where to donate:
THERE are giant collection bins inside all of our city's Walmart stores. Look for the bin featuring a winged me with my two daughters. All RBC branches in the city have our collection bins.
Our giant penny is once again on the second floor of Portage Place facing the Edmonton Court. There is a bin at the Winnipeg Free Press at 1355 Mountain Ave.
Cheques can be sent to Pennies from Heaven, c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Tax receipts will be issued.
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There's still time to send in your original ballot for the chance to win a prize in our annual Pennies draw.
The prizes include the chance to have either RBC Olympians Jared Funk or Jill Officer come to your school or your kids' or grandkids' school, a lovely Canadian Ice diamond pendant provided by Ben Moss Jewellers, or tickets to concerts including Sarah Brightman, Charley Pride, Great Big Sea, Randy Bachman, and the Manny Tuba and the Magic Jukebox show at the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's Concerts for Kids.