Calgary

Former Drop-In client gives back to Christmas Wish program

In years past, Allan Cook would have been on the receiving end of a Christmas gift from the Calgary Drop-In Centre. But on Thursday, the former client was the one making sure holiday wishes will come true.

Allan Cook made a $500 donation, ensuring gifts for 10 people

Allan Cook made a $500 donation to the Drop-In Centre's Christmas Wish List program. 0:42

In years past, Allan Cook would have been on the receiving end of a Christmas gift from the Calgary Drop-In Centre.

But on Thursday, the former client was the one making sure holiday wishes will come true.

Cook, a veteran who was left a quadriplegic in a mountain biking accident some 14 years ago, made a $500 donation, which will be used to grant wishes for 10 clients of the DI.

Cook's donation put the fundraising goal over the top, meaning every one of the 750 who signed up will receive a gift this year.

"They supported me over the years, they gave me a Christmas wish and I thought, it's the only thing I could do," he said.

He called Thursday an "emotional day."

"I don't know how to explain it," he said. "I was on the streets for 2 ½ years, they were here for part of my life but I survived through that. It's about paying it forward, they helped me out."

Cook served five years in the Canadian military, spending time in Egypt in 1976.

Steve Baldwin, left, was all smiles Thursday as Allan Cook made a $500 donation to the Drop-in Centre Christmas Wish program. (Evelyne Asselin/CBC)

Seeing a former client now able to help others was rewarding in itself, said Steve Baldwin, director of people, culture and community at the DI.

"This is what it's all about, this is what makes it worthwhile," he said.

"There's people behind us here who give their life to helping others. They feel the pain, the sadness, the loneliness people feel. Allan was one of those people at one point and we're so inspired and proud he's now able to be back out, independent, on his own and being in a position to give back to us."

Along with funds and volunteer time, Baldwin said kindness is what's needed in the city.

"We're all in this thing together," he said.

"If you can be kind to someone, anyone you see on the street, be kind and let's make this city closer and warmer."