The Stettler Recreation Centre was abuzz with hockey action this past weekend as peewee teams came from across the province to participate in the tournament hosted by Stettler Minor Hockey.
But, even in the midst of all the action, players and their families remembered to get food items for the Stettler Food Bank as they filled up a pick-up stationed indoors, lent generously by Stettler GM.
“I believe the first home team tournament food bank challenge was started by Kim Smyth and Katie Bainbridge when their boys were in the peewee hockey,” said Wendy Staal, main organizer for the peewee Food Bank challenge. “Katie and Kim have always wanted to get the kids involved in giving back to the community that supports them and they do a phenomenal job.”
Explaining the background, Staal said that every division/level in the Stettler Minor Hockey hosts a home tournament with six to nine away teams.
“At these home tournaments, it has become a tradition to host a ‘Food Bank Challenge,’ and we throw it out to our home teams along with the outside teams to bring as much food for the food bank as they want,” Staal added.
The winner can be figured out in a couple of ways.
“Either by just judging the piles per team and/or by ballot, which means the more bags you brought the more ballots you got. And a chance draw was made,” Staal said. “The winning team usually wins pizza for their team, which is perfect for a tournament weekend.”
Although Staal is not sure when the pick-up trucks started getting involved, she is certain that all the dealerships in town have been involved at one time or another.
“We are very grateful and constantly surprised by the support we receive for the Food Bank from this community,” said Betty Birch, president of Stettler and District Food Bank. “Individuals, businesses and organizations continue to keep the less fortunate in their minds and hearts.”
Although Birch is thankful for any donation of non-perishable foods that are not outdated, the biggest need continues to be canned fruit, cheese spread, peanut butter, and canned meat.
“We also appreciate receiving flour, sugar, cereal, pasta, pasta sauce, rice and personal toiletries,” Birch explained. “Because of the tremendous response to our needs at the holiday season, we are in good supply of items right now.”
However, the spring and summer will see the Food Bank stock severely depleted and it is often a time when no one thinks about donating to local causes.
“Financial donations help to see us through those tighter times,” Birch said. “Over the year of 2016, we saw an increase in the usage of our food bank by about seven per cent, and we continue to have new clients every month.”