Even though not everyone believes in Christmas miracles, volunteer staff at the Stettler and District Food Bank Society experienced their own this holiday season.
Donations of both food and money have come flooding in during the month of December, as individuals, community groups, service groups and businesses have made an effort to donate.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Food Bank President Betty Birch said. “We’re all feeling pretty happy about that.”
In addition to donations from the community, the food bank was also bolstered by a choral performance held earlier this month at the United Church in Stettler. There, choirs from several different churches and communities performed to help bring in money and food donations to help the needy.
With the province’s economy now into the second year of an oil-industry slump, many families are beginning to feel a very tight pinch as unemployment and/or benefits are coming to an end.
During the past two years, the number of families relying on the food bank has increased, with about 130 families accessing the food bank per month, and about 300 overall for the full year, Birch said.
Even with the generosity of the community during the October food drive with local emergency services, the shelves were starting to get bare, and the food bank was spending about $4,500 a month on food products to ensure clients were able to get what they needed.
Though Birch didn’t have a tally, as there are still more events planned for this month – including the Night before the Night before’s train rides, which are free with a donation to the food bank – she said that the monthly grocery bill will go down due to the influx of food, and financially, the food bank is in good shape for several months.
Birch didn’t want the news to discourage people who are considering donating to the food bank, though, as what could seem like a healthy cushion of money and food right now is quickly spent assisting members of the community who need that helping hand.
“There are just so many people who have made this happen,” Birch said. “Light up the Night events where people light up their properties and ask for donations, businesses doing food drives, even individuals themselves. We are so grateful.”