A recent campaign by Avenue Living Communities raised more than $15,000 for the Medicine Hat & District Food Bank to help feed people in the southeastern Alberta city.
"We don't receive any government funding, so when the community steps up like Avenue Living has, it makes a huge difference in our community and for the running of our organization," says Celina Symmonds, Executive Director of the Medicine Hat & District Food Bank. "We truly could not do it without donors like Avenue Living."
"The money will be targeted to our most needed use. It will be going directly towards feeding families in our community."
Symmonds says one in 10 households in Alberta experience food insecurity. It's no different in Medicine Hat. Last year alone the food bank served 11,771 individuals, of which 6,718 were children. It gave out 740,210 pounds of food. Volunteers donated over 15,000 hours last year. The food bank also serves 500 to 700 brown bag lunches every single school day in the community.
"Medicine Hat, as many know, is going through a downturn in the economy right now. So we're seeing families that would not typically have to access the food bank are needing to use the food bank at this time," says Symmonds. "Our need has actually increased from last year to this year. Our need is great as we head into the Christmas season."
Avenue Living Communities launched the food drive and fundraising campaign in the summer, as part of the company's #AvenueGiving initiative. The goal of Feeding Friends was to raise $15,000 in donations for the food bank. $15,221 was the final value of the donation.
"This is extremely important to us," Aman Bhalla, Senior Vice President of Investment Management for Avenue Living Communities. "Developing community is really what ALC does for a living."
"We contribute to the economic development and growth of centres like Medicine Hat by keeping our buildings well-maintained. We employ lots of people in the company and we use contractors as well. We're constantly injecting funds into our buildings, and in turn into those communities. We take care of our residents. We provide an attractive place for people to live – a safe and secure environment for people to call home.
"For us, being able to participate in Feeding Friends in Medicine Hat is extremely important. One of our top priorities is to give back to the community."
Bhalla says the Medicine Hat food bank is a unique one. It follows the analogy of giving a man a fish and he eats for a day, but teach him how to fish and he will eat for a long time. Bhalla says the food bank follows that principle, helping people in various ways, teaching them how to cook and encouraging them to eat in a healthy manner.
This was the second campaign in the Avenue Living Communities' 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 8,800 residential rental units.