Tribute gifts foster a lasting legacy
When Tonia Chrapko’s mother was flown by STARS in 1997 following a motor vehicle crash it marked the beginning of a long relationship between her family and the non-profit organization.
Once Elizabeth Chrapko recovered, she and her husband, Victor, decided they wanted to give back to STARS, in appreciation. Over the next several years, the family volunteered at events, initiated fundraisers and educated people living in rural and remote communities about the benefits of STARS. The family was instrumental in beginning the process of building a new heli-pad in St. Paul. On Victor’s passing, the family listed STARS as one of the charities of choice for those wishing to make a donation.
When Tonia Chrapko began planning her own funeral this spring at age 46 after being diagnosed with cancer, she wanted to find a way to thank STARS for Elizabeth’s continued life. Tonia chose memorial giving through STARS. Once she passed away in May her family suggested in her obituary to anyone considering donations in Tonia’s name, to forward their gifts to STARS. Over the past few months, friends and family have donated nearly $5,200 in Tonia’s memory.
“She really believed STARS is a worthwhile cause,” said her sister, Xina. “It meant a lot to Tonia to make the world a better place.”
Anne Jones, donation administrator at STARS, said memorial giving is one way for loved ones to demonstrate their feelings for the person who has passed away or their shared respect for a good cause.
“It’s a wonderful way for friends and family to pay tribute to someone they care about,” said Jones, adding the non-profit receives between 600 and 800 donations each month in memory of someone who has passed away. Sometimes the deceased had previously asked for donations to be forwarded to STARS, while other times the family includes that information in an obituary.
Elizabeth says she is grateful for STARS as the organization gave her the chance to spend time with her grandchildren. “STARS significantly contributes to the happiness of rural Albertans,” she said. “Without STARS, our family would not have their grandmother. For our family this is priceless.”
On average, STARS receives about $320,000 annually through memorial giving.
Jones said many memorial gifts come from smaller communities, where the residents generally know when a person has been flown by STARS, or whether the organization has been a part of the family’s life, such as the case with the Chrapkos.
While the family misses Tonia every day, they appreciate that her legacy is recognized through the community supporting STARS.
“Our family is very grateful for the donations made in Tonia’s memory,” said Xina.