SYDNEY, N.S. "It's nice to have good neighbors.
Less than a week after a Sydney call center unexpectedly closes down, the facility's closest neighbor is intensive to assist the more than 600 former ServiCom employees and their families who lost their jobs in the closure.
With less than two weeks to Christmas, the local branch of Salvation Army, located just over Inglis Street from the now empty ServiCom building in the Sydney Shopping Center, does what it takes to make the holiday season a little easier for the former call center workers.
Major Corey Vincent said the popular charity, known for its Christmas collectors, has seen an increase in donations since Thursday's devastating news across the street.
"We have noticed a huge discharge from society – with the funds that have been donated, we can now look at some of ServiCom's employees' need," Vincent said.
"Many of us are stupid and we do not really see the level of desperation before something happens like this – the media have got this story out there, and we make people donate from across Canada.
"So we can put these funds towards Christmas, make sure the families are comfortable and do not have to stress about Christmas and we're looking at some other options – we get donations from individuals and clubs and organizations that's amazing."
On Tuesday, Vincent met Sydney businessman Parker Rudderham, owner and president of Pharmacy Wholesale Services, who made a $ 15,000 cash donation to the Salvation Army.
The successful businessman said that he and his team decided to help after hearing about last week's ServiCom closure.
"It's a shock to lose 600 to 700 jobs in a society, especially in a society like this, where the misery index is through the roof to begin with, and then add it on top of it – I know it's necessary and it does worth it because the need is with these employees near Christmas, and we're excited to do the little we can help, "said Rudderham.
"It's not about who gives the most, it does not matter, it's about giving if you can. I know it's necessary and it makes it even more worthwhile because the need is there, the Salvation Army is a wonderful organization and I know that money will be spent well. "
Vincent said that Sally Ann accepts more than just cash donations. He showed off the church's incredibly large "playroom", which already has everything from the latest toys to an abundance of stuffed animals, including a big blue octopus.
"Donations of toys have picked up and we now know that we have up to 200 children to give Christmas so we want them wake up knowing that Christmas has visited their homes," he said.
"And we will make sure that every cent of the donated money is spent where it should be."
The Cape Breton Regional Chamber of Commerce has cast its support behind the Salvation Army and is encouraging area residents to consider a donation for the cause.
"It has been a hard week for Cape Breton, and with our vacation and colder temperatures outside, these workers need community support," said Kathleen Yurchesyn, chamber chief.
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Other organizations, companies and individuals also do what they can to help. A local pizza shop, Alexandra, distributed gift cards to the now unemployed ServiCom workers, while Reserve Mines-based Seaside Communications canceled their planned Christmas party and instead donated $ 10,000 to the Salvation Army.
Local Sobeys stores also span and make more than 600 turkeys through Sally Ann. Families will be notified and will be able to catch the Christmas bird on either 19 or 20 December.
And as always, Cape Breton's food banks always accept donations and could use even more help considering the many extra families that may need some extra help at Christmas.
On a related front, former ServiCom employees are encouraged to attend one of four scheduled information sessions, which will be presented by a provincial department's Department of Work and Advanced Training Organized Transition Team at. 9:30 and at. both Thursday and Friday at the Ashby Legion in Sydney. The team, consisting of provincial, federal and community partners, will provide the former ServiCom staff with tools, training and resources.
Cape Breton Transit offers free transportation to and from information sessions to those showing their ServiCom employee IDs.
On Tuesday, the province announced some programs and services to help ServiCom employees who say it is entitled to a six week training program that will also provide financial support during the course, which includes networking, conflict resolution, first aid, computer and communication skills and stress management. The department also said that the affected workers could apply for a $ 200 discount to cover housing costs.
In the meanwhile, call center manager Todd Riley has said that efforts continue to secure payment for the facility's former employees, some of whom have not been paid for four weeks, and to help broker to sell the center to an interested American businessman.