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Cochrane FREEbies boxes supporting local businesses

Local businesses are connecting with the community through Cochrane FREEbies boxes. 
The fall FREEbies box is ready to go. Submitted photo.

Everyone can agree that getting anything for free is something to smile about.

People lover and fellow Cochranite, Christine Halmazna, took a lesson from Cochrane's Welcome Wagon and ventured off into her own endeavour - Cochrane FREEbies.

From restaurants to car dealerships to clothing stores, Halmazna said there is a variety of goodies from local businesses in the FREEbies boxes, including coupons, gift certificates, discounts and swag.

Adding her own spin to the project all while trying to accommodate Covid restrictions, Halmazna says the boxes are a way to shop and support local. 

"It's just an alternative form of advertising and it gives businesses a different reach," said Halmazna.

Halmazna has been giving out the FREEbies boxes since the start of the year on a first come, first served basis. She works off a quarterly schedule so four times a year Cochranites have an opportunity to get a box. Within each quarter, Halmazna allocates boxes over one week and asks those interested in a box to send her an email to with their home address. 

"We make 250 boxes a quarter," said Halmazna. "Since we've started we've sold out every quarter, but if we only have say 100 requests in that week, then we would just put out 100 boxes, but historically we've sold out within a couple of days every quarter."

Halmazna added she personally delivers the boxes in Cochrane and the surrounding area. The FREEbies boxes are limited to one per household every 12 months and are different every quarter with no stipulations in order to receive a box. 

"It could be anybody," said Halmazna. "It could be new residents, it could be people who have been here for 30 years, it's not necessarily just people in need because the businesses want everybody's support."

This encourages community members to walk into stores that they may have not known about or thought about going in.

"I've had tons of positive feedback," she said. "People love the program, the concept. Businesses love that they're able to get into people's houses and get that person's undivided attention."

The long-time nurse laughed, saying she never thought she would be trying her luck at marketing and advertising, but so far, so good. She said she is always looking for new businesses to come on board and see what FREEbies is all about. 

"Anyone is available to come into the box, but there is a cost to the business," said Halmazna. "It varies on whether they sign up for a year contract or a six-month contract."

With so much negativity in the world right now, it is the little things that make a difference. Halmazna believes the FREEbies boxes have shown to be a success, and could blossom into something else in the future.

"I didn't foresee that I'd be doing this," she said. "I saw there was a need and an opportunity, so I kind of just ran with it." 

Cochranites can request a FREEbies box from October 24 to 31 by sending an email with their address to Deliveries will start November 15.