June 18, 2019

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Opinion

Devil of a time being angelic

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/12/2010 (3114 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

I put on my halo and wings and braved the cold for charity

YOU probably think it’s easy being an angel, don’t you? You probably think it’s nothing but lying around on clouds, strumming your harp, and thinking angelic thoughts.

Well, I’m sorry to say — and this is the voice of experience talking — you could not be more wrong.

The truth is, it’s hard slogging being an angel, especially on a bitterly cold Winnipeg morning when your job description includes standing in the dark on an icy bridge and flapping your arms like a lunatic to entice rush-hour motorists to pull over and donate to a really good cause.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 8/12/2010 (3114 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

 I put on my halo and wings and braved the cold for charity

YOU probably think it’s easy being an angel, don’t you? You probably think it’s nothing but lying around on clouds, strumming your harp, and thinking angelic thoughts.

Well, I’m sorry to say — and this is the voice of experience talking — you could not be more wrong.

The truth is, it’s hard slogging being an angel, especially on a bitterly cold Winnipeg morning when your job description includes standing in the dark on an icy bridge and flapping your arms like a lunatic to entice rush-hour motorists to pull over and donate to a really good cause.

I know what I’m talking about here, because on Tuesday morning, for the second time in my life, I was transformed into a super-sized angel, complete with a billowing white gown, fuzzy little wings strapped to my back, and a sparkly silver halo stuck on top of my official British Open golf cap.

 

Despite the risk of dying from exposure, I signed up for another tour of duty with Misericordia Health Centre’s Angel Squad as it descended on Maryland Bridge to persuade donors to swing by the urgent care facility and open their wallets.

 

Our heavenly mission was to help raise funds for a one-of-a-kind project — a rooftop garden and solarium for the health centre’s long-term care residents.

 

And so on Tuesday morning, like every December for the last 15 years, dozens of volunteers arrived at the centre before the sun came up, yawned at one another and, with the sort of precision rarely seen outside of a kindergarten Christmas pageant, struggled into their angel outfits.

 

Then the angelic army swooped down on the bridge, where volunteers used their medical expertise to monitor one another for imminent signs of death because it was easily cold enough to freeze the wings of a brass angel.

 

On the upside, it was easy to maintain an angelic smile because our facial muscles froze within minutes. Our squad included medical professionals, politicians and Starbucks employees, the most heavily caffeinated angels I have ever worked with.

 

"If you didn’t have coffee this morning, you’re a dead man walking," Starbucks district manager Travis Friesen, an angel for the last seven years, helpfully explained. "A top-flight angel has to dress warmly, avoid frostbite and wear Sorel boots. It (being an angel) warms my innards right down to the bottom of my soul."

 

This year, I was fortunate enough to have my own angelic assistant in the form of 16-year-old Astrid Cox, a Balmoral Hall student who also happens to be the eldest daughter of my buddy Bob, who is also our publisher.

 

Even hardened angels became mistyeyed as they watched Astrid, a silver halo perched atop her goofy cow’s head tuque, trundle behind me, bravely waggling a sign offering donors "free coffee."

 

As we beckoned to oncoming motorists, we exchanged heart-warming angel remarks, such as: "I can no longer feel my lower extremities." And: "I sincerely hope they will find my body in the spring."

 

So it was cold, but icy weather is not about to deter determined angels, such as Elis Purslow, an office co-ordinator at the centre who has slapped on a pair of wings to raise cold cash in each of the last 15 Decembers.

 

"I love it," the longest-serving angel beamed, "But angels have to do a bit of work, too. It’s not easy keeping the frost off your halo."

 

For Astrid and me, the highlight came when we were taken on a special tour of the snowy rooftop to check out the site of the planned garden and solarium, a first for a health centre in Winnipeg.

 

I’m probably biased, what with being an angel and all, but the view from up there is, in a word, heavenly.

 

When her teeth stopped chattering, Patti Smith, executive director of the Misericordia Health Centre Foundation, said they hope to double last year’s donation total of $32,000, but that’s just a fraction of what’s needed.

 

"We need hundreds of thousands of dollars," she noted. "It’s for our long-term care residents. We want to give them a place to go and barbecue with their loved ones or plant some flowers or just enjoy the incredible view."

 

The best news is the Angel Squad will be flying again today and Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., so you can still drop in and donate. Along with a warm, fuzzy feeling, you’ll get a free cup of Starbucks coffee, a biscotti, and a copy of the Free Press.

 

It’s a holiday deal made in heaven, so, please, get off your cloud and be an angel this Christmas. You’re bound to thaw out eventually.

 

doug.speirs@freepress.mb.ca

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