By David F. Rooney
Broad support for the Community Connections Food Bank helped make this a Christmas to remember and that support gained new momentum with a surprise decision by the Royal Bank of Canada to give the agency a $5,000 donation.
“This was completely unexpected,” said Patti Larson, Community Connections’ outreach services manager and Food Bank coordinator. “I found out on Monday when their assistant manager for donations in Toronto sent me an e-mail. This is a huge amount of money.”
The e-mail from Sandra Stewart, assistant manager for donations said: “To help mark and celebrate the Olympic Torch Relay celebrations in your community, RBC is pleased to confirm a $5,000 donation to Community Connections (Revelstoke) Society, directed towards the Food Bank program. You should receive a cheque for the above amount within 20 days.
“RBC will announce its donation to Community Connections (Revelstoke) Society at the event. Due to the tight agenda on stage, you will not be required to speak at the event. However, we hope you and your colleagues will be able to join the Olympic Torch Relay Community Celebration event on January 26 taking place Downtown starting at 1700 (5 pm).”
This large donation will go far towards alleviating some of the pressure the Food Bank is under during the year. At Christmas this year, 205 hampers were distributed to feed 366 people, including 107 kids. That’s up from last year when 180 hampers were distributed. Meanwhile the regular weekly demand for food remains high. Last week, 175 hampers were distributed. The average is about 150.
Larson said this year’s donations by individuals and businesses were extremely generous.
Local financial donations at Christmas “topped $40,000” and she said “more and more people are just stepping up and doing things.” The kinds of things these humanitarians do range from Brent Lea’s fund-raising calendar to people, who like one Australian visitor who dropped by every Friday during his vacation here, just want to volunteer their time and help out.
Local companies, like Chantilly and Pharmasave, have regularly offered gift wrapping services for Christmas gifts while the Credit Union “paved the way for giving gift bags” at Christmas. Beta Sigma Phi, the Royal Bank and Okanagan College also gathered and donated gift bags for the needy, as did many private individuals, Larson said, adding that people bought 243 of the $9 gift bags put together at Cooper’s and HMC gave guft bags, too.
“It’s interesting to see how many different people are paying attention to our needs,” Larson said.
Revelstoke Secondary School sponsored 20 families and the CIBC Angel Tree went along way again this year towards helping make Christmas something wonderful for children in the community.
There were food drives at all of the elementary schools and, all told, the Community Connections Food Bank received about 4,000 pounds of non-perishable food. At an estimated value of $2/lb. Those were substantial donations, she said.
Cooper’s Foods and Southside’s coupon programs continue to be mainstays of the Food Bank’s efforts to raise money and the annual CP Rail Holiday Train brought an additional $4,000 to the Food Bank.
“All of this helps us help the people who need it,” Larson said. “They are the working poor: young men, single moms with kids, seniors and others. They could be your friends, your neighbours or even members of your family. “It’s very hard for people to come through our doors and ask for help, but it’s made a little easier when there’s broad community support for our efforts.”