Melfort heliport kicking off community fundraising

MELFORT— The Melfort Municipal Health Advocacy Committee has kicked off community fundraising for the Melfort STARS heliport, asking for both cash and in-kind donations.

Approximately $468,000 of the fundraising goal of $600,000 has been raised by the kick-off, with support from various community groups, businesses and the RM of Flett's Springs.

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Brent Lutz, Melfort’s community development manager, said with major fundraising campaigns it’s not unheard of to have a significant amount committed at the beginning.

“The public portion is where you’re going out and you’re looking for the $100, $500 and maybe $1,000 donations,” Lutz said. “Obviously our goal is $600,000 for the project, so our goal, we couldn’t collect it in $100 donations, we would be collecting forever. The committee realized a major portion would be coming from corporate donors or individuals with major commitments.”

He said that by doing it this way, they know they have community support going into the fundraising.

“The fact that we’re prepared now to go to the public campaign just underscores the fact that the committee has been well received where they went, looking for major corporate donations.”

The public community fundraising campaign started with a mission launch luncheon on Jan. 15 in the Kerry Vickar Centre.

The in-kind donations the committee is seeking includes tree removal; site excavation; topsoil and seeding; site grading; fill material and gravel; concrete; chain link fencing; windsock and mast; ladder and safety railing; double doors; fire extinguisher; paint; signage; and utilities including relocation, installation and fixtures.

Currently, about $100,000 of the $468,000 is in-kind donations.

All donations, including gifts-in-kind, are eligible for a charitable receipt and will receive permanent recognition at the Melfort Hospital. There are different donor recognition levels, with donation recognition starting at $100.

The fundraising campaign is expected to be completed on Feb. 29.

“We’re feeling hopeful that in that condensed period of time that people will be prepared to respond. There is a lot of sentiment toward STARS— who will be utilizing the heliport, and there is a lot of public support that comes with any project that’s connected with them.”

Lutz said that it’s the final part of the fundraising that is the most difficult.

“Every dollar counts, because the total sum is required before we can commence construction on this,” he said. “The last funds to push a project like this over the top are the hardest funds to raise.”

The heliport is planned to be built by spring and operational in mid-summer if fundraising efforts will allow it.

The project business case states that the heliport will reduce time by about 34 minutes to get the patient to the Melfort Hospital through STARS.

Donations are being directed to the North Central Healthcare Foundation, their website is nchcf.ca. Additionally, donations can be left at city hall in Melfort as well as the gift shops at Parkland and Melfort hospitals.

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