Crew turns tables on officers
HMCS Yellowknife ship rallies for Salvation Army hampers

Doug Ashbury
Northern News Services

NNSL (Dec 18/98) - The HMCS Yellowknife has sailed closer to the heart of the city it was named for.

In a unique effort, the crew of the Kingston class maritime coastal defence vessel has raised $1,220 for the Yellowknife Salvation Army.

The donation comes as the Salvation Army is preparing Christmas hampers.

To raise the money, the crew held raffles and organized several activities. The events were organized by Petty Officer Second Class Brenda Lesiuk.

"It was a way to give something back to Yellowknife," HMCS Yellowknife sponsor Pat McMahon said.

"They had a blast. The topper was getting the officers to take out the garbage," she said.

Crew members paid cash to sit in the captain's chair, fire weapons and watch the commanding officer, Lieutenant-Commander Grant Bannister, take out the trash.

Leading Seaman Sam Saeed, a junior engineer, donated $300 to sit in the captain's chair.

He got more than just a comfy seat.

Saeed's first order, "stand down." It would be a day off at sea for his crewmates.

His meals and treats from the ship's canteen were served by ship's officers.

Saeed opted to wear the commanding officers epaulettes -- those shoulder flaps -- for two days.

Master Seaman Patrick Sampson won the opportunity to fire an HMCS Yellowknife .50 calibre machine gun. It was a rare chance as only a few trained individuals are able to fire the weapons.

And to make the ship's last day of sailing prior to Christmas holidays a little happier for the crew, officers offered to do all the coming alongside tasks -- for a fee.

A wage scale was set, with officers performing more duties for higher pledges. If the officers were to take care of all the tasks normally done by the junior members, it would take $600 in pledges from non-commissioned members.

The money was raised in less than a hour.

"The members of our ship were thrilled to be able to give the City of Yellowknife back a small portion of the generosity and support the city has given us," Lesiuk, Leading Seaman Duane Earle and Leading Seaman Cythia Thomas wrote.

Salvation Army Cpt. Al Hoeft said the community has responded to Wednesday's call for help.

As of Tuesday, the church's efforts to gather food for its Christmas hamper program was off to a very slow start.

"The situation has improved," said Hoeft.

The church will make sure every family in need gets a food hamper. Whatever is lacking will be bought. But just how much the church has to buy will effect its ability to offer programs later on.

Programs like the soup kitchen could be hurt if the church has a big shopping bill to meet hamper needs.

In Yellowknife, the Salvation Army will soon deliver about 180 hampers.

Lions Club President Tim Jaworski said the organization, after hearing donations were behind, decided to donate $1,000 to the hamper program.