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 Posted in    |  on March 9th, 2012  |  by

Women help stamp out cancer

Order of the Eastern Star member, Christine Swindell, shares a laugh with fellow stamp sorters on Sunday, March 5th, as part of an initiative to raise money for cancer research. Photo by Joshua Estabrooks

In an age of emails, text messages and Tweets, the aged stamp has seen its heyday come and go, but a group of dedicated ladies in Invermere is still collecting used ones as part of a massive fundraising initiative to help fight and treat cancer.

The women are members of Golden’s chapter of The Order of the Eastern Star, which is related to the Masons. Invermere used to have its own chapter, but as membership has waned over the past number of years they have now become affiliated with Golden’s chapter.

What many don’t know about stamps is that once they are used, they are still valuable to certain collectors, like the local volunteer stamp sorters. The group of volunteers has been meticulously collecting, trimming and organizing stamps for decades.

The stamps are sent to Vancouver each spring, where they are sold to collectors from around the world, and the money is used to either assist in cancer research or to produce dressings needed in the treatment of cancer.

“Not many people know about it,” said Jackie Thesen, a member of the order.

“I get excited about the work we do because I see the numbers and what we have accomplished over the years. We have many volunteers who come and help out, and we’re always trying to encourage people to drop stamps at the elementary schools or to one of us instead of just throwing them out.”

Since 1968, there has been a total of 645.5 pounds of stamps collected locally, and over 6,700 hours of volunteer time has gone into trimming them and preparing them for shipment to Vancouver.

The group engaged the valley’s elementary schools in 1993, and they all take part in a friendly competition to see who can collect the most throughout the year.

“The schools have collected over 46 pounds of stamps. Over 3,000 stamps make up a pound, so that’s a lot,” Ms. Thesen said.

Almost $420,000 has been raised provincially since 1954, she added.

Although there has been a significant drop in the number of stamps used due to electronic communications’ rise to popularity, the group has received some interesting old collections that should help them in their fundraising efforts.

“We have a lot of older stamps and a lot of international stamps. The more valuable the stamp, the more money we can raise.”

If you would like to help with the initiative, save your used stamps and drop them off at any local school.

Joshua Estabrooks
Email: joshua@cv-pioneer.com
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Journalist Joshua Estabrooks has a passion for storytelling. Originally from Ottawa, he moved to British Columbia as soon as he could, and has been working in the industry for over six years. Joshua's passions are writing, photography and music. He is excited to bring his varied experience in the industry to the Columbia Valley, having been a publisher, editor and reporter in the short time (no pun intended) he has been in the newspaper world.

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