Darlene Hartshorn

The City of Warman kicked of its 2022 Volunteer Appreciation Awards presentations at the April 24 Regular Meeting of Council.

Darlene Hartshorn was named the Volunteer of the Year.

Darlene spent the previous calendar year volunteering her time to help coordinate fundraisers, donation drives and an ongoing project which have seen an outpouring of support from Warman and area. Each initiative brought local businesses and residents together, strengthening the community’s support of those in need in Warman.

She had a hand in raising the funds needed to fill Easter hampers for four seniors and two families in Warman.

Over the summer, Darlene collected clothing and school supply donations from Warman residents. Once collected, and after hours of organizing and sorting by clothing type and size, Darlene held a back-to-school clothing and school supply event in her driveway. This coordinated effort ensured all families had access to free essential items ahead of the current school year.

More hampers were assembled in October for Thanksgiving as well. Eight more seniors and two more families received these care packages.

Warman’s 2022 Volunteer of the Year Darlene Hartshorn (centre) is presented with her award by Warman City Councillors (left to right) Kevin Tooley, Shaun Cripps, Marshall Seed, Doug Ramage, Richard Beck, Mayor Gary Philipchuk, Tracy Johnson and Youth Councillor Autumn Heppner.

The most intensive, on-going volunteer initiative of all has been the creation of Hand Up Cupboard on October 11. Darlene has opened the shop in her home to resemble a grocery store, where those in need can come find non-perishable and refrigerated or frozen perishable food items, as well as hygiene products and even pet products. From its inception to the end of the year, 188 people used the service. Another 409 have already benefitted from the service in 2023; 77 in January, 98 in February, 112 in March and 122 in April.

“That’s what this is about; helping people. I do what I do because I love doing it. I have the passion, the drive,” Hartshorn said. “Especially when you see little kids and they get excited because they get (items) that people take for granted. Yeah, that’s what it does for me every day that I open.”

It’s an initiative that has brought out the giving nature of Warman and surrounding area. Donations have flooded in through area farmers, ranchers and producers, local school fundraisers, grocery stores and general contributions.

“All it takes is a phone call, an email, or a message and you would not believe the help you can get,” she added.

Though Hartshorn admitted she was shocked and doesn’t volunteer for the accolades or recognition, Mayor Gary Philipchuk said the work she does behind the scenes still deserves to have the spotlight shone on it.

“Darlene has ensured that those in need have access to essential items,” Philipchuk said. “She has not just given back to the community, she has encouraged the community to unite and work together as well. This has been both incredibly generous and selfless, and our residents are grateful for these efforts.”

The City of Warman will be unveiling the remaining four Volunteer Appreciation Awards at upcoming City Council meetings.