The COVID-19 crisis hit the oilpatch hard, with oil prices going into negative territory briefly in April and drilling coming to an absolute standstill.
While oil prices and activity have slowly clawed their way back, it has been the toughest year in memory for the sector.
In oilpatch communities like Estevan, energy companies are often among the most generous when it comes to supporting community groups. But being as hard hit as they’ve been, it’s been difficult to do so.
Danny Blackburn of Blackburn Well Service and Chris Scholpp of Red Line Well Service Ltd., both Estevan oilfield companies, decided to do something about it.
“We thought it would be a good idea this Christmas, seeing that everything is kind of down in the economy, and we knew the Angel Tree would be hurting more than ever for donations,” Blackburn said, referring to Estevan Community Hamper Association and its Angel Tree program.
“Everybody's getting affected by this, right? So, unfortunately the Angel Tree is hurting and they're hurting … because the guys that are willing to donate, maybe their businesses are running 25 per cent of what it was.
“So, Chris and I figured we would team up and we would ask all our oilfield vendors that we do work closely with to see if they would be interested in donating to the Angel Tree. And we had an unbelievable response. Anytime the oilfield is called upon is, it's always good. We see the oilfield always seems to back this community.”
The total donations came to $16,950, and the cheques were presented on Dec. 10. The donors, based in Estevan, Lampman and Frobisher, included F&L Concrete, R&R Tank Rentals, Border Insulators, Grimes Sales & Service, Hadco Services, Blackburn Well Service, Hutt’s Trucking, Thunder Oilfield Construction, Red Line Well Service, C&R Oilfield Maintenance, TS&M Supply, Premier Safety, AC Power, PTW Canada, Vermilion Energy, Dart Services, Apex Distribution and Ironside Energy Services.
Jolie Bayda, one of the co-chairs of the Angel tree, said their program provides Christmas hampers which include a turkey and all the fixings, plus additional food. Children under 16 receive a toy, mitts and toques through the Angel Tree, and the Estevan Kinettes give every kid a set of pyjamas.
“It was amazing,” she said. “We were just blown away. It'll help a lot of people. You know, we were speechless. We appreciate the hard, hard work that went into it, especially in such a tough time with a recession and a pandemic. You know, it wasn't an easy feat, and they blew us away.”
Also, long-time Estevan oilfield company McGillicky Oilfield Construction has donated $4,000 to the hamper association.