By David F. Rooney
He has been on the road every year for 22 years touring the country to inspire people to feed the hungry and help
beleaguered food banks. If anything, Tom Jackson’s efforts not only bear fruit in the form of donations to food banks, they build hope for a better future.
And next Wednesday his Singing for Supper tour will stop here for a performance at the United Church to benefit the Community Connections Food Bank.
Twenty-two years of touring to help feed the hungry — 15 years with the annual Huron Carol Tour and now going on seven with the Singing for Supper Tour — that’s a remarkable amount of time and effort. It has also garnered Jackson a tremendous amount of attention from the news media. That might inflate some people’s egos but he works to remain a modest man.
“Sometimes I have to do a check on myself,” he said. “I am impassioned about helping others. Sometimes its becomes second nature. I think that’s a fault. You really have to be very conscious of the less fortunate we see just an arm’s length away.
“The reward is a gift of giving. It always becomes clear to me when I stand in front of an audience.”
Being aware of the hunger many people struggle to sate is a constant in Jackson’s life.
“I was brought up with an understanding of sharing,” Jackson said in an interview from Manitoba on Sunday. “That’s what my parents taught me.”
He’s had his own brush with hunger, too, during a period of living on the street as a teenager. As a biography posted at his business website, www.tomali.com, puts it:
“Born on the One Arrow reserve in Saskatchewan and raised in Winnipeg, Tom left school at the age of 15 and spent seven years living on the back streets of Winnipeg. This experience built the foundation of his character — tenacity, leadership, determination to succeed and an altruistic capacity to care for others.”
Jackson believes food banks “make a difference in the world” and work hard though he may, he is always conscious of the fact that he is “not in the trenches… where the food banks are.”
Food banks are the front line in the effort to feed the hungry. Here in Revelstoke, the Community Connections Food Bank distributed 1,300 food hampers to hungry Revelstokeians in 2008. And every Christmas they distribute more than 180 Christmas hampers.
Like many, Jackson is aware of the subtle pressures on people to be selfish, to care only for material things, but he doesn’t let it depress him.
“I, too, have been exposed to the Me world but there’s something interesting and enervating going on. We’re in a cyle.”
Forty years ago the current generation of Baby Boomers tried to reinvigorate society and Jackson sees it happening all over again.
“There is a youth movement out there that is part of our focus,” he said. “They are conscious of the need to change and to create a better world for others.”
This new generation of young people may be able to effect more change than the Boomers did, but it won’t happen overnight. Forty per cent of the people who depend on food banks are children and, as Jackson puts it, “we need to protect those children.”
You, too, can help protect them by purchasing a ticket to the concert from Community Connections (click here: https://legacy.revelstokecurrent.com//wp-content/uploads/2009/11/online-singing-4-supper.pdf for the full local concert details) and even a copy of his new Singing for Supper CD at the event. All proceeds go to support Canada’s food banks. Jackson has also written a new song, The Gift, that is available for download on Itunes, located at www.apple.com/itunes.