Idle No More: Philanthropy In A Can

So often, we read news stories about the philanthropy of this rich person or that rich person. We read how thousand of dollars have been donated to an organization by someone who inherited his or her millions along with a business empire.

But the true philanthropists of this world are those who give what they have without looking for the photo-op moment or the tax deduction come April. People like Charlie Delorme.

Charlie is a homeless man who has spent most of the last 40 years living on the streets. This past September, he received a residential school settlement check.

Now, Charlie could have taken that money and bought a small condo for himself. He could have thrown a huge party and snubbed his nose at the ghosts of those who abused him when he was a student at the residential school he attended. He could have gone on an extended vacation to warmer climes.

Instead, the first thing Charlie did was to write have the bank make out a certified check for $2,000 for a youth shelter that provides programs for at-risk youth and overnight shelter for teens in need. Charlie’s generosity moved Garry Hubert, executive director of the SideDoor Youth Centre, to tears.

But Charlie wasn’t done helping others. Charlie Delorme donated $5,000 to the Yellowknife Salvation Army and $10,000 to the Stanton Territorial Hospital Foundation for the pediatrics unit providing care for local children.

You might think that Charlie’s philanthropy started with that residential school settlement check, but it didn’t. According to Garry Hubert in an interview with the National Post, he said that Charlie has always been that way and told the story of a potluck funeral reception in a church basement where Charlie’s contribution was a tin of beef stew for those attending.

Yes, Charlie used some of that settlement check to pay rent on a place that will give him shelter from the cruel winter months with biting winds, arctic temperatures and feet of snow, and who can fault him for that? Don’t we all appreciate a roof over our heads and warm bed to sleep in? Of course, we do.

It’s not that Charlie stands on street corners and begs for money to keep him going. According to people who know him, he’s always doing something to earn money to pay his way in life. It’s just that these days, cutting people’s lawns or shovelling snow, collecting bottles and cans or other manual labor, is hard to come by and doesn’t pay very well. And construction jobs for seniors suffering from arthritis and a bad leg don’t exist.

When you factor in age and education along with the abuse he suffered in early childhood, it become easier to understand where Charlie is coming from and why he does what he does.

He says he thinks Father Joe Daley at St. Patrick’s Roman Catholic Church could use a little help, and so he’s going to see what he can do about that.

In the end, it’s people like Charlie Delorme who make the world a better place in which to live by virtue of being who he is. It’s not the money that made him noteworthy. It’s his philanthropy that makes him noteworthy … whether it’s a certified check for thousands of dollars or a can of hearty beef stew.

Elyse Bruce

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One Response to “Idle No More: Philanthropy In A Can”

  1. Idle No More: Saying Goodbye | Elyse Bruce Says:

    […] News alerted me to the fact that Charlie Delorme, who I wrote about in my article entitled, “Philanthropy In A Can” has passed away at the age of […]


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