Flying on the success of last year’s Spirit of Giving campaign, WestJet has taken this year’s program overseas bringing what the airline calls a “Canadian Christmas” to the disadvantaged community of Nuevo Renacer, Puerto Plata, in the Dominican Republic. The airline serves Puerto Plata as one of four destinations in the Dominican Republic.
Working with the Canadian charity Live Different, a collaboration established in 2012, the airline has helped build 23 homes for families living in extreme poverty in this community, and extended its commitment by sharing the Christmas spirit with the local residents.
“The WestJet holiday video has become a tradition for us, an opportunity for WestJetters to enrich lives through our fun and caring culture,” says Bob Cummings, WestJet Executive Vice-President, Sales Marketing and Guest Experience. “Having shared the holiday spirit last year with our guests in Toronto, Hamilton and Calgary that resulted in the more than 36 million views of the video in every country around the world, we decided to celebrate Christmas this year with a community that is near and dear to our hearts. This was our chance to give the people of Nuevo Renacer a once-in-a-lifetime experience – a Canadian Christmas.”
Live Different is a Canadian charity which provides “experiential programs” including high school motivational presentations, which have reached more than 1.1 million students; international volunteer trips to aid in development projects in Haiti, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Thailand; and the Live Different Academy, a gap-year mentoring program for young adults.
“Bringing the spirit of Christmas to this community was an extraordinary idea that took extraordinary effort,” says Charles Roberts, Executive Director of Live Different. “WestJet’s genuine desire to enrich the lives of those in the WestJet world extends to this community too. Providing a memorable and fun experience that celebrates the spirit of Christmas with no strings attached, is something that WestJet did with excellence and careful consideration. We are thrilled to have a partner who shares a deep conviction to value and care for people as their first priority.”
The airline has now debuted 2014’s Christmas Miracle video on YouTube, which has thus far been seen by 685,135 persons.
Featured in the video are members of the community who make their Christmas requests from a Blue Santa on the screen of a blue sleigh, and a jolly WestJet team of volunteers who get busy fulfilling these requests for Santa.
My favorite is the man who asks for a new horse so he can pull his cart for work.
That really sends the message home of how difficult life can be for many around the world who only want a way to provide for their families.
There were many simple requests filled too, like the girl who wanted a skateboard. Watch for yourself, but keep your tissues near-by. It’s well-worth a few tears.
With notable exceptions, I’m not that fond of a tear-jerker. There are plenty of things to cry about in life, and I find it better to have a hearty laugh. That said, you really can’t hold back a few tears when you see things like this–it’s a good cry.
Christmas is the time many of us around the world have set aside, to share warm moments with our family, treat ourselves with goodies and gadgets. But it is also the time we’ve picked to remind ourselves that there are others less well-off in need of our help.
Fortunately, many people and organisations around the world keep this in mind year round, whose personal and financial contributions make life a bit better for everyone.
WestJet and Live Different are to be commended for their ongoing work in this and other communities throughout the year.
Since 2012, WestJet has supported Live Different with the WestJet Hero Holiday program on an annual basis in the community of Nuevo Renacer, located near Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. This year’s Hero Holiday, taking place in October, marks the beginning of a new three-year partnership with the organization.
“Our goal is to find meaningful ways to extend WestJet’s culture of care into the communities we serve,” said Richard Bartrem, WestJet Vice-President, Communications and Community Relations, this October when announcing that the airline would renew its partnership with Live Different for three more years. “Over the last 18 years, WestJet has supported thousands of charities across Canada through our WestJet Cares for Kids, WestJetters Caring for Our Community and Airport Giving community investment programs. A new three-year commitment to Live Different enables us to dig a bit deeper and develop a long-term relationship with the people of Nuevo Renacer, through the contribution of our enthusiastic volunteer base and this terrific Canadian charity.”
To me, that level of year-round commitment makes the tears which this Christmas video induces sweeter. This latest video will likely be just as popular as last year’s. No doubt it also serves the airline’s brand image, but its message of goodwill is evergreen.