Christmas Seals program witnesses sharp decline in donations

The Christmas Seals program is witnessing a sharp decline in donations from Red Deer and across Alberta, says an Alberta Lung Association spokeswoman.

The Christmas Seals program is witnessing a sharp decline in donations from Red Deer and across Alberta, says an Alberta Lung Association spokeswoman.

Deb Steele said that donation levels are significantly lower for this time of year.

Last year, Red Deerians donated $20,786 after receiving the colourful stamps in the mail.

The stamps are used as decorative seals on letters and packages.

Currently, Red Deer has raised $7,636 towards the Alberta Lung Association’s goal of $900,000.

Overall, Albertans have contributed $350,000 so far — less than half of the goal.

The Christmas Seals campaign provides dollars towards research of various diseases like asthma and lung cancer. Donations also support programs and services for those with lung disease and to help children choose a smoke-free lifestyle.

Steele said the concern is if they don’t meet their goal by Dec. 31, programs will be cut.

The Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) assistance program was recently dropped because it lost is primary funding source, an annual golf tournament held by a generous donor.

The program, which provides information, bridge financing and other support, would be reinstated if the lung association’s goal is met.

Frank Holemans said he knows how important this CPAP program is to him.

The 67-year-old, who lives on a ranch half way between Olds and Sundre, was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea in 2009.

He had been very tired in the morning and afternoons because he wasn’t sleeping well.

It was discovered that Holemans was waking up every three minutes during the night because his breathing had stopped.

Holemans was told he needed a CPAP machine, which costs about $3,500.

“I was finally convinced to call the lung association and I’m so glad I did,” said Holemans.

“They made me feel comfortable, not an outcast. . . not ashamed . . . they suggested that they could get me a machine to keep me going.”

The lung association was initially going to give Holemans a used machine on loan. He decided he wanted a new machine but because he couldn’t afford one, the association provided him with bridge financing. The money helped him to try out the machine and to make payments over time. He still uses the machine.

The association paid for the mask and straps that go along with the machine.

“I used the (Christmas Seals) stamps for many years but I didn’t realize what they were — I kept donating every year,” said Holemans.

“I feel terrific. I challenge anybody to just support the (lung association). These people can keep a person alive.”

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

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