Steffani Cameron and Marc Smith

Chance meeting inspires good deed

Weather cancels 'kindness ambush,' goodies passed on to military families

A cancelled early morning fall flight to Las Vegas led to a broadening of perspective for Steffani Cameron and ultimately shaped her recent “senseless act of kindness” in Esquimalt.

The Victoria writer and longtime blogger was enduring a “travel day from hell,” preparing to sit in Victoria International Airport for a while, when she found herself next to a uniformed Canadian sailor heading south for some specialized training.

“Me and a navy dude were the first ones to grab our bags to get ready to check in again,” she says. “We wound up talking for about two-and-a-half hours. He said he liked going to the States because they always get treated like royalty down there.”

That statement got Cameron to thinking about how Canadians view the people who serve in the various branches of the military. Not only is no one close to her in the Canadian Forces, she considers herself a pacifist, for the most part.

Inspired by Vancouver friend and blogger Marc Smith’s 30 Days of Kindness campaign, Cameron had already been thinking about ways to show gratitude for unsung heroes in the community. Her airport encounter steered her toward an idea to show respect for the work and dedication of military personnel.

“I was torn between doing the 911 dispatch centre (or the navy base), but the kid on the plane was the deciding factor,” she said.

The original plan of handing out cookies to navy personnel coming in and out of the gates at CFB Naden in Esquimalt quickly expanded. With local merchants and others getting on board, she collected close to $2,000 worth of restaurant gift certificates, Royals hockey tickets, coffee and wine.

Local musical couple Paul and Lisa Jarvis, who have recorded as Mojave, even donated 100 CDs after randomly meeting Cameron in Chinatown and hearing of her plan. Both of the couple’s grandfathers served in the Second World War.

The frigid temperature on Friday kiboshed Cameron’s hope of “ambushing” unsuspecting service people with gifts. Instead, she and Smith presented the bags of goodies to Rick Dwyer, operations manager for the Military Family Resource Centre.

Dwyer said the upcoming MFRC volunteer appreciation night – all centre volunteers have connections to military families in the region – would provide a good start for handing out the gifts.

“And I know the coffee will be perfect for our deployment coffee nights and dinners,” he said of the social events put on by the centre to welcome newcomer families recently posted here.

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