Arline would have turned forty-five years old today, unfortunately a tragic car accident took her life on December 10th. For those of us who knew Arline, we will miss her infectious giggle and her warm-hearted concern for all those around her. She was my husband’s secretary at our consulting company for close to thirteen years and every time I called the office, Arline’s sweet voice and giggle greeted me. Every Christmas, knowing that I had an aversion to Christmas baking…not eating it, just baking it…Arline always sent my husband home with a huge tray filled with her Christmas squares and cookies. I told her she was my “Christmas Angel”. She would giggle and glow with pleasure that she had made me smile. Her greatest joy was to give to others. She gave of her time, talent and personal resources to anyone who needed help or just needed a smile. That was her way.
She was a single Mom who loved her two children, family, and friends without reserve. That was also her way.
She attended a Franklin Graham crusade with my husband and I in Calgary and gave her heart to Jesus there. Her faith, and her tender heart for the “poor in spirit” gave her even more compassion for others and to selflessly give of time and talents to anyone who needed it.
Weeks leading up to her forty-fifth birthday, she did not want presents herself…no…she wanted to give $10.00 Tim Horton gift cards to all the people who go to the Drop In Centre in Calgary, a place that provides a warm meal, and a place to sleep for Calgary’s poor and homeless. When she was told that over five hundred people use the Drop In Centre regularly, Arline knew that as a single Mom she just did not have the resources herself to buy gift cards for all the residents. She decided instead to raise money on her own to get gift cards at least for the senior residents, about two hundred in all. Her plan was to go to the Drop In Centre on her birthday and hand out the gift cards.
After the tragic traffic accident that took Arline’s life on December 10th, her son and daughter were told by responders who attended the scene that Tim Horton cards were scattered everywhere inside the car. It was then that Tyler and Samantha (Arline’s young adult children) decided that they would fulfill their mother’s birthday wish. Using social media and news and radio exposure to help them, they appealed to family and friends that in lieu of flowers bring Tim Horton Gift cards to her memorial service or contribute monies to the RBC in a trust fund set up to collect money for the Drop In Centre in her memory.
A local radio station took up the cause and auctioned off a Christmas Sweater with all proceeds going towards the Drop In Centre “Pay it Forward for Arline Savage”. When I heard of the campaign I wept with joy. At the memorial service that we attended on the 17th, a donut box was filled to overflowing with Tim Horton gift cards, given by the hundreds of friends and family that came to celebrate Arline’s life.
Yesterday her children had the privilege to hand out hundreds and hundreds of gift cards to all the residents at the Drop In Centre…in fact, they got twice the number of gift cards they had thought to get, so they are going back to the Drop In Centre again after Christmas to give away the other cards! A final and fitting way to honour their mother’s birthday wish and to spread some Christmas Joy to others. Happy Birthday, Arline! I’ll bet you’re giggling all the way from heaven!