"I felt it was really important for us as a company to be able to give back to the community and show that we're a part of this community"
With 10 per cent of the Medicine Hat community using the food bank on a regular basis, Avenue Living Communities has launched its latest #AvenueGiving initiative – a food drive and fundraising campaign for the Medicine Hat & District Food Bank.
The campaign goal of Feeding Friends is to raise $15,000 in donations to the food bank. Avenue Living donated $5,000 to kick off the effort, which runs until July 6.
"We wanted to give back to our community, and support the hardworking efforts of the Medicine Hat food bank," says Monica Layden, Residential Portfolio Manager for Avenue Living Communities. "As part of the Feeding Friends campaign, we encourage our residents and everyone in Medicine Hat to stop by the office and drop off non-perishable items of food.
"The food bank does so much for the community and helps the people in need. People that are struggling. I felt it was really important for us as a company to be able to give back to the community and show that we're a part of this community."
The need has become more urgent in the last few years with the downturn of the economy, particularly in the oil and gas sector.
Both food and financial donations will be collected at the Avenue Living office at 1027 South Railway Street. The office is open seven days a week and people can also donate online at avenueliving.ca.
"We're doing social media and we've let all of our tenants know that we're doing this," says Layden. "And at the end of the campaign, we're going to be having a barbecue just to celebrate what we have achieved."
Celina Symmonds, Executive Director of the Medicine Hat & District Food Bank, says one in 10 households in Alberta experience food insecurity. It's no different in Medicine Hat.
"Last year alone we served 11,771 individuals, of which 6,718 were children," says Symmonds. "We gave out 740,210 pounds of food. It's important to note that the food bank is not government funded. It's funded completely by our community. So donation dollars here are extremely important and really the only way that we survive here. Our volunteers donated over 15,000 hours last year. We also serve 500 to 700 brown bag lunches every single school day in our community."
Symmonds says the food bank relies 100 per cent on donations from the community so when companies like Avenue Living come forward and support the organization, it's certainly the "bread and butter" in ensuring people in the community have access to much-needed food.
"The need in the community is extremely high," she says. "And for folks that are experiencing food insecurity, the food bank is more than just food. It's also community and creating opportunities to get out of poverty and learn skills, as well as creating relationships within the community so that they're not alone. It's a big picture of how we support those in our community who are most vulnerable."
This is the second campaign in the Avenue Living Communities' new community-focused event series: #AvenueGiving. The first was Brown Bagging for Calgary's Kids – a grassroots-focused and community-funded organization that works with people throughout Calgary to feed kids who would otherwise go without a healthy lunch at school. The mission of #AvenueGiving is to give back to those in need, with a focus on ALC centres across Western Canada, where Avenue Living has more than 8,500 residential rental units.