Two military support organizations are working together to offer support and resources to military members and their families across Canada.
CannaConnect formed a partnership with Together We Stand Foundation (TWS) in support of its annual Holiday Gift Packages initiative.
“We were connected by a mutual friend who believed that we both had similar missions within the military community,” says Stephanie Shapiro, chief operations officer TogetherWe Stand.
In 2018, TWS distributed 2,550 family gift boxes valued at approximately $1.14 million to military families with a loved one deployed overseas.
That number increased to 3,000 gift boxes in 2019 with the contents including cards and coupons from corporate and private donors such as Adidas, Brass & Unity, Fabricland, Reebok, Yogen Früz, Scotia Scene Cards among others, with an estimated cash value of $300 per package.
TWS hosted its first distribution event on November 27 at CFB Edmonton.
Shane Urowitz, chief operations officer, CannaConnect, says their contribution to the TWS initiative will continue to spread awareness about the cause.
“The ultimate goal of the partnership is to support military and veteran families from as many avenues as possible. This cause is very close to CannaConnect’s heart, given many of our veteran clients have had to leave their families and loved ones at some point throughout the holidays,” says Urowitz.
By working together, both organizations are able to touch many military families and help them gain access to a variety of opportunities.
The TWS gift box initiative was first introduced in 2017 by Rick and Lillian Ekstein, first-generation Canadians whose families were victims of the Holocaust.
Passionate in their belief that Canada is the best country in the world and deeply appreciative of the sacrifices members of the military make to preserve our freedom, the Eksteins wanted to show their appreciation to military families.
The couple personally donated $50 Visa gift cards to 1,500 military families with loved ones deployed overseas as a gesture of thanks for their dedication and sacrifices.
The positive feedback sparked the creation of the Together We Stand Foundation, which aims to support and acknowledge military families across Canada.
“They are the heroes behind our heroes, and it is our goal to ensure that they receive the recognition they deserve,” says Shapiro.
Working with CannaConnect, a leading clinic in Canada, and helping veterans and civilians gain access to medical cannabis and other professional services covered by Veterans Affairs, both parties have been able to spread awareness to the cause on a broader scale.
CannaConnect has eleven clinics across the country where their network of frontline staff collaborate with a team of leading physicians, with specialities across psychiatry, pain management, psychology, family medicine, and emergency medicine.
Shapiro and Urowitz hope the partnership between both organizations continues in the future.
“TWS believes wholeheartedly in the work that CannaConnect does with the military community,” says Shapiro. “We would love to continue to help spread awareness of their services and potentially partner in future initiatives.”