Canada has a long and proud history of serving abroad to make the world a better place. In 2018, Canada deployed over 2,000 Canadian Forces members in a variety of missions to places like Africa, Europe and the Middle East over the holidays. Subsequently, over 2,000 Canadian families were separated from their loved ones during the holiday season.
Together We Stand Foundation was founded to recognize, thank and pay tribute to patriotic military families who are as much a part of our armed forces as those who serve on the front lines.
Family Gift Boxes were given to each Canadian Forces family who found themselves separated from their loved ones deployed during the holidays. Together We Stand is proud to work in partnership with the Department of National Defense and Support Our Troops.
The concept of Together We Stand is the creation of Rick and Lillian Ekstein of Thornhill, ON. Both are proud first- generation Canadians whose families were victims of the Holocaust. The Eksteins are passionate in their belief that Canada is the best country in the world and are deeply appreciative of the sacrifices members of the military make to preserve our freedom. Understanding the importance of family and the emotional strain on spouses and children when troops are deployed, Rick and Lillian decided the best way to say thank you was to do something special for the “behind the scenes heroes”— the family members who find themselves, alone, and hence, the “Family Gift Box” was born.
A delivery in Petawawa was the first for the foundation and CEO and Founder, Rick Ekstein called it a wonderful and emotional occasion. “We got a lot of hugs and there were a few tears,” he said following the presentation. “This brings to the surface their feeling and it provides a bit of relief that their contributions are acknowledged by people that are not part of the forces, but just ordinary Canadians.”
Together We Stand works with Support Our Troops across Canada to determine the recipients of the gift boxes. Each year Rick and his team travel to different locations and arrange for hundreds of other gift boxes to be mailed to families in time for Christmas.v
For more information on how you can help, visit twsfoundation.ca