Programs & Services

Couple donates $50 gift cards to over 1,400 deployed military families

After realizing the incredible sacrifices, military families make, especially during the holiday season, Mr. Rick Ekstein, President and CEO of Phaze3 Management and CEO of Weston Forest Products, and his wife Lillian made a considerable gesture to support families over the 2017 holiday season.

Through their contribution of $75,000, the families of 1,406 military members deployed over Christmas received a $50 supermarket gift card.

“It wasn’t about the money. It was just a way of showing our appreciation during the holiday season for these families,” said Ekstein.

Working with Canadian Forces Morale and Welfare Services (CFMWS) not only were the Eksteins able to contribute to military families but helped contribute to deployed troops’ Christmas gift of pure Canadian maple syrup.

Showing appreciation to military families is something that is highly important to Ekstein. Both he and his wife are first-generation Canadians. They are both children of penniless immigrants who survived the Holocaust.

“Canada was very good to Lillian and I. It gave us the opportunity to become a success in business and really we wanted to do something now to give back and say thank you,” noted Ekstein.

Ekstein has taken a keen interest in the military community and is a member of the Regimental Council of The Queen’s York Rangers.

“The best part for me was meeting the troops and giving an appreciation for what both they and their families do and sacrifice for us,” commented Ekstein.

Through his connection to the military community, Ekstein has come to learn about the incredible sacrifices military families make and the need for the Canadian public to do more to appreciate them.

“Families are the glue that holds everything together and that allows these people to be on the other side of the globe, looking out for our values,” said Ekstein.

Because of the encouragement, the Eksteins received from regular Canadians interested in reaching out military families, and the outpouring of gratitude from military families who received the gift card, Ekstein felt compelled to do more and is in the process of rolling out a concrete plan to continuously support military families.

Additionally, he is already asking individuals to donate to the Holiday Dinner Fund 2018.

“The bottom line is we want to do more next year. We want to do more, and we want to show more appreciation,” said Ekstein.

Ekstein has brought on his longtime friend Landon French, former CEO and President of Canadian Tire’s Jumpstart Charity.

“Rick and I both have been spending quite a lot of time just listening for the last few weeks, trying to better understand the experience that all soldiers and enlisted personnel themselves, and their families go through, particularly when they’re separated for a significant period of time,” said French.

The two are now working together to find the perfect vehicle to help Canadians show their appreciation. The coming weeks and months should tell exactly what kind of program the Ekstein family will establish.

“I think it’s just time and the right thing to do. It’s a wonderful feeling to be able to work on this project and give back. I’m excited about where this can go from here and looking forward to better understanding our own Forces and their families and seeing what we can do together,” said French.

If you would like to donate to the Holiday Dinner Fund 2018, please visit the CFMWS Support Our Troops website .

If you would like to reach out to Mr. French about their ongoing project you can contact him by emailing [email protected].

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Mishall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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Canadian Military Family Magazine