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(Posted 5:30 p.m., April 27)
Support Our Troops founder receives United Way award

By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Geraldine Dixon was pleasantly surprised to receive the United Way Community Builder Award during an impromptu presentation ceremony at the Amica at Bearbrook retirement residence on Thursday. Fred Sherwin/Photo


Geraldine Dixon was minding her own business as the community relations manager at the Amica at Bearbrook retirement residence in Blackburn Hamlet on Thursday when she became the subject of a surprise visit from the United Way.

The founder of the Support Our Troops flag campaign was presented with a Community Builder Award for her efforts which connected everyday people with Canadian troops serving in Afghanistan.

Dixon was inspired to launch the campaign five years ago when she was watching TV and saw a report about two children who lost their father while he was serving in the war-torn country.

Her idea was to design a large flag and send it across Canada to have it signed by everyday Canadians and celebrities with messages of support. The flag made a stop at the Greater Orléans Canada Day Celebration on Petrie Island, as well as the Orléans Oktoberfest.

Once signed the flag was sent to the Canadian Forces base in Kandahar in 2009 were it was given a place of honour. A second flag was signed and sent to the Canadian peacekeeping mission in the Sinai.

Dixon also sold Support Our Troops car window flags and raised $15,000 which was given to military family resource centres.

Dixon was nominated for the award by her friend and Gloucester Resource Centre volunteer coordinator Gayle Downing.

"The piece that she did with the military, raising that money for them and getting that flag signed and having it flying in Afghanistan, a lot of people in this community didn't know that she did that," said Downing.

A humble and still shocked Dixon was grateful for the award which came as a total surprise.

"I don't do things to get awards, I do things because of compassion to help other people, and the military people are the ones that I really have the most compassion for," said Dixon who is a native of P.E.I.

"I come from a family with eight siblings who looked after each other. We were raised to give back. You went out and worked and gave to the family. After I moved to Ottawa, I realized people here have the same attitude of giving back. This community gives back so much. It's extremely overwhelming."

When Dixon was called out of her office to go to the Amica dining room she thought she was going to a resident's birthday celebration, It wasn't until she saw her daughter and several friends who wouldn't normally be there that she started to question what was going on.

"It was a total surprise. I didn't have a clue," said Dixon.

(This story was made possible thanks to their generous support of our local business partners.)

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