Tom Van Dusen
Nation Valley News
KEMPTVILLE — Two months into it and a retired OPP sergeant is swamped making fundraising decorative buoys in support of victims of the Nova Scotia massacre in April.
Craig McCormick’s Uplifting Spirits project is basically a one-man show. So far, he has hand-made and shipped 350 of the cedar buoys selling for $30 each, with at least $10 per unit going to families of the 22 victims. He has another 75 on order and has told customers they must be patient.
McCormick has been in contact with members of the victims’ families and plans to donate a buoy to each of them. And last week, one of the buoys was included in the Portapique church memorial to the victims.
“Everybody on the waiting list understands it’ll take a while to get their buoys but they’re prepared to wait because they want to have a symbol of their support,” McCormick said, adding orders are coming from across the country, many from Nova Scotians living out-of-province.
Expenses for wood, paint, blue rope for hanging the buoys and shipping eat up the rest of the $30 fee.
Each is decorated with Nova Scotia’s tartan and Coat of Arms, emblems provided free of charge by Winchester Print and Stationary.
McCormick could use other sponsors for materials and manufacturing the buoys; while he often gets a special price, he’s paying for the cedar posts he cuts into one-foot sections, the white paint, the rope and shipping which can cost up to $22 depending on destination.
He’s keeping his head above water, but he admits it’s quite a workload.
And McCormick has never even been to Nova Scotia. However, as a former policeman with 30 years of experience, the rampage by a lone gunman struck a chord, not to mention that one of those killed was a police officer, RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson.
McCormick sees the Uplifting Spirits campaign as a metaphor for life: We get battered and abused, but we stay afloat. The retired policeman felt the need to reach out in support because of the sheer magnitude of the tragedy.
When he decided to start producing the buoys, McCormick had already launched another charity with wood as the main ingredient, this time sawmill scraps. It’s called Kindling for Kids and involves young people collecting the scraps and packaging them as firewood. Over the past three years, the project has delivered about $6,600 to Children’s Mental Health of Leeds and Grenville.