Rapid City business continues giving tradition

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Christmas came a little early for the students at Canyon Lake Elementary School, thanks to a local business Wednesday.

First graders receive gifts from Santa Claus and Westjet Air Services Wednesday. Photo Date: Dec. 19, 2018.

First graders receive their gifts from Santa Claus and Westjet Air Services.

For the 10th year, the owners and employees of Westjet Air Center purchased gifts for all the students at the school.

The event is the brainchild of Linda Rydstrom, a former Canyon Lake Elementary student and president of Westjet. When she learned that nearly 75 percent of the school’s more than 400 students come from low-income families, she and her husband Don decided to provide the gifts to the school’s children.

Santa Claus was on hand to hear the children’s wishes. Helping Santa distribute the gifts were the U.S. Air Force, Rapid City Police Department, and the Rapid City Fire Department.

Rydstrom said that she invites the Air Force as a show of appreciation for their service. She invites law enforcement and first responders so that the children can have a positive experience with them.

A Canyon Lake Elementary first grader meets with Santa Claus. Photo Date: Dec. 19. 2018.

A Canyon Lake Elementary first grader meets with Santa Claus.

“I think it’s good for the kids to see at a young age that they are here to help,” Rydstrom said. “So many times, when the kids see the police and fire department, it’s not a good situation so we really wanted the opportunity to cast them in a positive light.

For a business like Westjet, which has a history of more than 40 years in Rapid City, the gifts are a way to give back to the community that has given them so much.

“I think everybody in the community needs to give back and we feel that we’ve been blessed,” Rydstrom said. “We’ve owned Westjet for 43 years and it’s our way of giving back for the community doing so much for us.”

In addition to giving gifts to students at Canyon Lake Elementary, Westjet is also active with other charitable organizations. They contribute to Youth and Family Services, and the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program, among others.

Categories: Local News