Food drive helps kick off Calgary Food Bank’s busy season

Calgary residents braved the first heavy snowfall on Saturday Oct. 20 to give back to the community, and in turn receive something for themselves. The 13th annual Great Pumpkin Giveaway took place at the McKenzie Towne Sobeys, an event that allows people to bring in a food donation for the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank and leave with a free pumpkin.

D.D Coutts, manager of communications and development for the Calgary Food Bank, said that the event is a “great way to kick off” the start of their busy season.

“From Thanksgiving through to the end of January is when the need is greatest felt,” Coutts said as she stands next to four grocery carts that have already been filled with donations.

Events such as the pumpkin giveaway are “critically important” to the Food Bank’s success, Coutts said. “The only way we raise food and funds is through the community. Without the community we wouldn’t be able to do what we do.”

Children at the event climbed in and out of the four bins filled with pumpkins, redistributing them from emptier bins into the full ones so that people did not have to scrape the bottom looking for one.

The Great Pumpkin Giveaway was set up in front of the McKenzie Towne Sobeys on Saturday. For a food donation for the Food Bank, residents were able to get a free pumpkin.

Photo By Roxanne Blackwell

Realtors Kim and Doug Hayden provide the 2,000 pounds of pumpkins that are given away each year during the event. Kim said that the event is about more than just raising food donations – it is about community involvement.

“If we took that cash (from the expense of the pumpkins) and just gave it to the Food Bank, they could probably purchase more food than (the 500 pounds) we raise,” Kim said, “But we are giving our neighbours an opportunity to help a neighbour.”

Throughout the four-hour event, people trickled in with their arms loaded with cans of soup, boxes of macaroni and other food items for donation. Many stopped to chat with the others who were there and warm up with the free coffee that was provided.

Jennifer Warriner was one of the many people who came down to drop off a few bags of donations. Both of her children were happy to each pick out a pumpkin from the pile just in time for Halloween.

“I thought it would be a good learning experience for the kids,” Warriner said. “We are so fortunate in all that we have, and I think it’s important to realize that not everybody has that ¬–and the pumpkins make it fun for the kids.

Kim Hayden said that it is one of the biggest rewards she gets from organizing the event.

“To watch the kids walk up and feel like they’ve contributed back, that’s pretty huge.”

rblackwell@cjournal.ca