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At Your Service: Food Bank gets booster from spring drive

Kaleo Collective had a record number of children participate in its Mother's Day event this year.

Consider it a surprise spring bounty to help fill the shelves for the summer months ahead. 

Service clubs are always working to serve the community and fill its biggest needs, though usually they do it separately from each other. When they collaborate, however, you already know it’s going to be a big success and make things better for many residents. 

The second annual food drive blitz on April 30 definitely brought in a bumper crop for the St. Albert Food Bank. When the accounting was all done from this and the collection taken during AMA’s public shredding event, there was more than 2700 kilograms of food and almost $7,000 in monetary donations. 

The drive was a combined effort of the St. Albert Breakfast Lions Club and the St. Albert Host Lions Club, ACT/UTC Council 1024, the Africans & African Descendants Friendship Club of St. Albert, the St. Albert Cosmopolitan Club, along with the Rotary Club of St. Albert, Saint City Rotary Club, and the Rotaract Club of St. Albert. Together, they increased their intake from last year’s inaugural event by setting up collection points at local grocery stores, as well as the Red Willow Community Church on the Saturday only. The service clubs also challenged each other to help drive up donations. 

“We are blown away by the generosity,” was the food bank’s response on social media

More help on the way 

Fit + Fierce is back with its strident lunge toward another food bank boost. The girls’ wellness program is hoping to collect and deliver about 1,500 kilograms for the St. Albert Food Bank as a part of the annual contribution component of the program that also focuses on mind wellness, fitness, nutrition, and mentorship. 

“The girls support the food bank with bi-weekly food donations from September to June every year,” said program co-facilitator Kelsey Vickers.  

“Every year, the girls get more and more excited about it. At each session, they’re excited to weigh the food because they’re understanding the impact that it’s having. A lot of our girls return so it’s becoming a pretty big deal to them.” 

The goal of the program is to teach the girls that giving back is not only good for the community; it is good for their mental health, too.  

Vickers said the food bank is “hurting” and needs all the support it can get. Fit + Fierce wants to amplify the effort by getting more people involved. 

To that end, she issued a friendly challenge to everyone to make their donations at collection bins at local grocery stores to match the Fit + Fierce effort. 

“If we could just knock it out of the park for them, that would be incredible.” 

Look for a lengthy line of hamper helpers carrying their donations in their backpacks as they head from Bellerose Composite High School to the St. Albert Food Bank in the early evening of May 19. There will be more than 100 girls in the humanitarian procession.

Love You Mama like never before 

A record number of kids participated in Kaleo Collective’s seventh Mother’s Day no-charge flower shop called Love You Mama. Five hundred smiling young faces came to Londonderry Mall on the weekend to create custom bouquets and pick out gifts for their moms on their special day. 

“Giving a gift is a simple, but powerful act,” founder Layna Haley said in statement. “For a child, being able [to] give mom a gift they’ve chosen is a lasting memory. Kids’ faces beam with pride, moms are moved to tears. It’s a beautiful and meaningful experience for everyone, especially on Mother’s Day when single moms are often either doing all the work or forgoing the fuss.” 

The local organization that supports single moms has seen an "unprecedented increase in numbers” recently. Anyone wishing to help offset costs from the unexpected increase in children participating can still Adopt-A-Mom for $50. Donations can be made at kaleocollective.ca

Goodwill’s First Anniversary Gift is Paper  

It was a bountiful year for the new Goodwill Thrift Store, which culminated with Mayor Cathy Heron celebrating the anniversary by proclaiming Goodwill Week from May 1 to 7.  

At the same time, representatives from the charity business that supports Albertans with disabilities through employment programs paid that forward with two gifts for the Rotary Club of St. Albert. The first was a sculpture of the Rotary Club logo designed by Dave McCauley of Wetaskiwin. The artist created the piece using donated forks and spoons from Goodwill.  

Goodwill also offered a monetary gift of $2,112 to the service club to help it in its efforts to give back. 

The community has offered 12 months of strong support to Goodwill by generating more than 25,000 donations, with 90 per cent of the proceeds going right back into its mission services of assisting those with disabilities to find and gain meaningful employment. 

The gift exchange took place during the last week of April. The Goodwill Thrift Store and Donation Centre is located at 730 St. Albert Tr. 

EMCN needs space  

The Edmonton Mennonite Centre for Newcomers is desperate for a new donation centre space to accommodate a foreseen increase in demand from Ukrainian refugees and all other newcomers to Edmonton. Currently, its centre is feeling the cramp with “a mountain of donations tumbling from above.” 

The centre has always been used to provide language training to immigrants and newcomers, but now many of those rooms are overflowing with donations as limited staff try to sort, organize, and disperse them to refugees who arrive with nothing.  

The centre is desperately seeking a low- to no-cost space for a new co-ordinated donation centre that could serve all those in need of emergency household items, clothing, furniture, and supplies. It also requires additional funding to continue to operate, as its current funding ran out March 31. As Edmonton becomes a hub city for refugees from Ukraine and many other areas of the world, and backlogged immigrants arrive in high numbers in Edmonton, the centre can no longer meet all the item needs of incoming refugees and immigrants without more financial support.  

“Our city needs a permanent home for donations intended for refugees, victims of emergencies, and others needing to make a fresh start. The Refugee Donation Centre in [the centre's] language classes building is just a bootstrap operation until a more permanent solution is established. We felt like we had to do something to fill the service vacuum left in our city when the Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society was forced to close its doors back in August 2021,” Megan Klein, the centre's executive director said in a press release. “There is a critical need for this service ...” she continued. 

"As refugees arrive in our city, they will have to dip into their very small resettlement allowance for these items. Arrivals of newcomers fleeing the crisis in Ukraine are not even provided a standard refugee allowance as they are not designated as refugees when arriving under the Canada-Ukraine Authorization for Emergency Travel (CUAET) program. Without access to unrestricted supports like [Edmonton Emergency Relief Services Society's] donation centre for refugees, many vulnerable families will simply go without basic necessities.” 

People can make a donation to the organization by visiting its website at emcn.ab.ca/donate. To donate goods or volunteer, call 780-423-9524. 


Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns, and profiles on people.
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