Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Just what the Doc Walker ordered

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As head angel for our annual Pennies from Heaven fundraising effort for the hungry, I've seen many different ways people have used to get donations for us.

I've seen them raise their weight in coins. I've seen them outbid each other to get a chance for musician Steve Bell to perform in their living room or get a chance to sit on stage with Bon Jovi while they were performing live. I've seen classrooms compete with others in their school to raise the most pennies and win a pizza lunch. I've seen people put in many ballots to try winning a piece of jewelry generously donated by our friends at Ben Moss.

I know my predecessors -- founder Mike Ward and columnists Gordon Sinclair Jr. and Lindor Reynolds -- also saw unique ways of fundraising.

But here's a new one: donate all the proceeds they won on a game show.

It all began before last year's Pennies campaign when the members of Doc Walker agreed to join with us to help the hungry who are helped by the Christmas Cheer Board and Winnipeg Harvest.

As far as I knew, that meant the multi-Juno award winning band would appear with me on all of our posters and advertisements, come to our official launch at the Free Press News Café to play a few songs and allow us to get on stage with them at their concert to encourage people to donate money to the cause.

Unbeknownst to us, the band's lead singer, Chris Thorsteinson, had something up his sleeve that I didn't know about until the campaign was over.

Thorsteinson had been invited to compete on CMT Canada's Employee of the Week television show. The weekly show sees celebrities compete against each other at various tough and messy jobs, including automobile repair shops, zoos, and laundromats.

For Thorsteinson, it meant competing against Canadian country singer/songwriter Jason McCoy at a truck stop diner. There the pair would compete to be the best at busing tables, taking orders and making coffee.

They even tenderized and prepared veal.

When the knives, forks and dust settled, turns out Thorsteinson won. But according to the show's rules, Thorsteinson couldn't keep the cash, he had to give it to an organization doing charitable work.

As I said earlier, I knew nothing about this until I opened an envelope at work one day earlier this year and out popped a cheque for $5,000.

Doc Walker has been busy since then, but I sent off a note to Thorsteinson, thanking him for thinking of us. After all, with everyone out there from child, to teen, to adult, to senior, you make a conscious choice where you want to put your charitable donations and I never take it for granted when people choose Pennies.

I'm still not sure whether we'll consider the donation the final one for last year's campaign or the first one for this year's, but rest-assured, the cheque has already been cashed so many of our local hungry will be helped this Christmas because of Thorsteinson's generosity.

It is music to everyone's ears.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 24, 2012 A12

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