The food bank at Bonnyville Friendship Centre got a solid influx of funds just when they need it most, thanks to a sold-out “Masquerade” Gala last Friday.
The annual gala is the food bank’s single most important fundraiser, according to the Friendship Centre’s director of operations Janet Gobert.
“There isn’t a lot of grant opportunities when it comes to the food bank so yes, we do rely on corporate and community donations,” Gobert said. “We were very pleased that it was a sold-out event.
“The other thing was this year the amount of corporate sponsorship that we did receive prior to the
event was at least double what we were seeing last year. Companies actually reached out to us wanting to be a corporate sponsor, so that was really nice.”
Gobert said that since the beginning of the Covid pandemic there has been an increase in food bank use. The food bank serves even more people when the cold weather takes hold.
“It takes approximately $9,000 per month to meet the need asked of our food bank because it is roughly 400 hampers that we are doing on a monthly basis,” she said. “In December and January, we can see that $9,000 go to roughly $13,000 per month.”
There is also increased demand on the Friends For Lunch school lunch program and Friendship Centre’s Community Kitchen, both of which are run by the food bank.“When you add that all up,” Gobert said, “it was really imperative that we see the gala as a success. And it definitely was.”
While the gala is the biggest fundraiser for the food bank, the demand for assistance is ongoing. The food bank welcomes food donations and cash contributions all year round. Gobert said the next major annual collection will be the Bonnyville RCMP Detachment’s “fill the cruiser” event in the second week of December.
Gobert is grateful for the outpouring of support on Friday. “I would like to thank not only the corporate sponsors, but the community members that had such a spirit of giving that night. On behalf of the board and staff of the Bonnie Bell Friendship Centre, we truly appreciate it,” she said.
“It’s definitely feeding the people that have fallen on challenging times. And we don’t want to see anyone—not only adults, we don’t want to see children going to bed hungry. They shouldn’t have to worry where their next meal is going to come from.”