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Dec13TueCity of Owen Sound, Ont., displays community spirit and receives a generous reward December 13, 2011 by Julia Hosking
Owen Sound, Ont., might be a small city but its enthusiasm is big. In a record eight days, The Salvation Army's Owen Sound food bank shut down a Kraft Canada Food for Families campaign that was anticipated to last 90 days, until January 31.
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- Territorial News
The campaign was designed to assist 30 food banks across the country. Members of the public could vote for one of the chosen recipients, with each vote translating into a one dollar donation for the centre. The Army's food bank received an enormous 22,232 votes, which, totalled with those received for the other locations, met the 50,000 maximum set by Kraft.
“We felt bad for Kraft because we shut everything down in eight days, but they could not have been more thrilled for us,” says Alice Wannan, community and family services co-ordinator, Owen Sound and Port Elgin.
Administrative decisions are yet to be finalized for the use of the $22,232; however, Wannan comments that the food bank was short in its Thanksgiving food drive, so part of these funds will help ensure that no-one goes hungry over Christmas. The Salvation Army's food bank is the only one in Owen Sound and serves 600 individuals each month, a 20 percent increase from 2010.
“Because we had the food bank with the most votes, we also received a $10,000 bonus prize from Kraft Canada,” adds Wannan. “That money is deemed for capacity building, which is about strengthening the skills and abilities of individuals so they can overcome the causes that lead to them needing our support, for example life skill courses, parenting, budgeting or community kitchen programs.”
The interest in Owen Sound for the Kraft Food for Families initiative started immediately and consistently multiplied.
“Around 10 a.m. on the first day of the campaign I received a call from the local radio station. It became the first of many interviews for radio and newspaper,” says Wannan. “At that time, we had 29 votes. I created a Facebook page and told my friends how their online signature would donate a dollar to our local Salvation Army. Less than 24 hours later, that Facebook group had jumped to 500 people and we had 1,226 votes.”
As online signatures continued to grow, local media interest did, too, further increasing the public's votes until the campaign reached its limit. It was then that producers from CTV's Canada AM became intrigued by the spirit behind the winning community. On Wednesday, November 30, Jeff Hutcheson, weather and sports anchor, Canada AM, filmed live feeds between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m. from Owen Sound's community centre.
“Because the community's support made this happen, we wanted to celebrate our success with them,” says Wannan. “Our mayor, city council and workers at city hall helped us plan the event, schools provided entertainment and the local fire department cooked 1000s of pancakes for everyone.”
Although the campaign resulted in more than $32,000 for The Salvation Army food bank, Wannan recognizes it provided more than that.
“This campaign gave us an opportunity to let the public know what The Salvation Army food bank is doing in their area and what the need is,” she says.
“We're assisting people that we know we've seen giving to us before. What I loved about this challenge was that people who couldn't give to us financially could still give something to The Salvation Army. They didn't have to go into their wallet; all they needed to do was leave their online signature. And so it was more than us receiving a dollar; it was giving our clients some hope and dignity and helping them take control of their life and circumstances.”
Shortly after the Owen Sound food bank closed the campaign so quickly, Kraft Food for Families announced another initiative to support community food banks. People register their support and the food bank with the most names at the end of each week is the recipient of $1,000. This new campaign will last until February 10, 2012.
“I'm seeing the same community spirit of Owen Sound that won our campaign paying it forward with their votes to help others in this new competition,” says Wannan. “It's amazing.”