Friday, May 10, 2013

Three Days Of The Carnation

The MS Society of Canada sells carnations just before Mother's Day as its signature fundraiser. Rona Ramsey is the mastermind of the Sudbury Chapter campaign, which I participated in for the first time this year.

The flowers were to arrive at the Twin Forks Playground building Wednesday between 9:00 and 11:00 AM. I got there a few minutes after 9:00 and found Chapter Secretary Rose and her husband Andre already waiting. What we didn't know was that the truck driver from Toronto, who was supposed to deliver in North Bay first thing and then drop our flowers in Sudbury before proceeding west to Iron Bridge, got his orders mixed up. He went to North Bay all right, but then he went through Sudbury and on to Iron Bridge before coming back to us. That was an extra 280 miles and he showed up just before 5:00 PM.

When he did arrive, we got a look at what nine pallets of carnations looked like. There were some single stem cut but most were small pots, fifteen to a box. This was going to be a big job for the three of us so Andre, the silver-tongued salesman, asked four teenagers playing tennis if they would give us a hand. And help us they did, for almost 45 minutes of lugging boxes into the building. They were cheerful, courteous and industrious and  had to be persuaded to take a potted plant each for their mothers and a can of ginger ale as thanks for their efforts. Too bad I didn't have my camera to record the team, because they renewed my faith in the younger generation. With all the plants unloaded, Diane and her volunteers showed up to sort Thursday morning's deliveries of pre-ordered flowers to local businesses.

Thursday dawned as another unseasonably warm and sunny day. I had been awake since 3:00 AM, although I am not really sure why. My morning task was to be one of the delivery people and I drafted Leo to help. We were at the playground before 8:00, waiting for Laurel who got hung up in a traffic jam. That wasn't hard because every road across town was being worked on this morning. Good planning by the city. When she arrived, we loaded as many boxes as we could in the Avalanche and headed out to make our first drop at the Greater Sudbury Police Service HQ. They had nine boxes ordered and needed them before 9:30 AM.

The police plants were delivered on time and then we wandered around downtown delivering the rest, with Leo driving and me running in to find the people, drop off boxes and collect money. We had to go back to the playground for the second part of the load but had everything done by noon. Good thing because we would be selling plants at Vale's (formerly my old employer Inco's) Copper Cliff Mine from 2:00 until 6:00.

We loaded the truck with plants and stopped by home to pick up Sandy, since having a lady sell in a predominantly male environment was supposed to be better. The traffic was still hung up and we got to the mine at 2:00 sharp, which did not allow for reconnoitering time. Vanessa, the plant Admin, got us set up in the warm room and we laid the plants out on a shelf. There were people waiting for us and sales started out briskly. Tam, the Production Superintendent, was our biggest asset, encouraging the miners to buy and even lending money to some who didn't have any with them. Miners usually leave their wallets in their vehicles when they go underground. Sales tapered off as the afternoon wore on, but not before I sent Sandy and Leo to get more small bills and coins when our float became depleted.

Tam's story was interesting. He escaped Viet Nam as a boat person when he was fifteen, sharing a raft with 161 other people. They had no food or water and two died before they reached Malaysia. In the refugee camp, he declined a chance to come to the USA, choosing Canada because he spoke French. After ending up in Sudbury, he put himself through high school and studied engineering at university before joining Inco 23 years ago. He worked his way up to his present position and demonstrated an easy manner of overseeing the people who reported to him. Anyone born in this country who complains about their lot could take a lesson from Tam.

By 6:00 PM, we had sold 118 plants and loaded the rest up to take with us to Stobie Mine the next day.

It would have been nice if the good weather could have held on for one more day, but it was not to be. I was up again around 3:00 AM and found a cold, rainy day. I had planned to load the bike into the trailer and mow the lawn before noon in anticipation of leaving for North Carolina tomorrow morning, but all I got to do was to lay out my stuff for Sandy to pack.

After lunch, I went over to the playground and loaded 17 boxes in the truck. Then I got Sandy and we picked up Leo. Because of the rain, the construction work was shut down and traffic flowed smoothly. We were at the mine in plenty of time and the Plant Protection Officer let me bring the truck inside the gate and right up to the door.

As happened yesterday, business was brisk at first but tapered off later on. Although we were to be there until 7:00, the last cage came up at 5:15 and people going underground weren't buying so we knocked off at 6:00 PM again after selling 88 plants. Then we delivered the remaining flowers to the Rona Ramsey MS Centre of Hope to be put out for sale at local stores tomorrow. Then we dropped Leo off and headed home for some much needed rest. Many thanks to Leo for service above and beyond the call of duty.

This was my first time working on this campaign but won't be my last. I will have a lot better idea of how this all works next year. What I do know, as Chapter Treasurer, is the good works funded by the proceeds of this and other fundraising activities.

No comments: