Between the efforts of the Strathmore Fire Department, and Holy Cross Collegiate school, the two groups raised nearly 4,700 pounds of food for the Wheatland County Food bank during a recent drive.
Also donated at the conclusion of the drive was over $1,000 in cash for the food bank. According to Wheatland County Food Bank Executive Director, Lynette Aschenbrenner, it was the single largest combined donation the organization has received.
“They both did such a super job and obviously our community that was donating to it,” she said.
“We weigh out our hampers according to family size, so it will definitely stock up our shelves well into Christmas. Obviously there are still going to be things we’ll run out of, you know, our staples, flour, sugar, our fresh items, but it has definitely stocked us up on a lot.”
The Fire Department accepted a challenge from the school to see who could raise more for the food bank within the span of a few weeks. The catch being that a barbeque for the classes to raise the most food was on the line.
If the fire department was to raise more, however, then the students would be cleaning the fire engines over a lunch break.
Aschenbrenner added anywhere from 5,000 to 7,000 pounds of food leaves the food bank every month in order to aid local families. This donation will be helping to fill hampers for food bank clients until nearly the end of the year.
In their previous fiscal year, the Wheatland County Food Bank packed 812 hampers, serving 2,350 people throughout the year. Aschenbrenner said the Food Bank is currently halfway through their current fiscal year and is on track to beat that number this year.
“We were really impressed with the buy-in from the community. I mean, we facilitated the food drive, but the generosity of the community is what made it happen,” said Strathmore Deputy Fire Chief, Eric Alexander.
“On the delivery day, we had stored all of our food that we had raised in one of our ice rescue trailers. We took all of our gear out, loaded the food in and headed over with about 10 or 12 firefighters.”
Following the delivery of the fire department’s contribution, the team made another trip to collect Holy Cross’ donations. Unfortunately, as the delivery occurred on a school day, the students were in class as opposed to helping offload the trucks.
Celebrating the accomplishment, the Fire Department made good on their end of the bet, hosting Holy Cross students for a barbeque last week.
“We are more than willing to challenge another school in town and beat the drums and get people talking about it and see what we can gather from the community for (the food bank),” said Alexander.
“I think it is something going forward that we will be willing to put our work and our backs into and make it happen for the community.”
He added the fire department would be happy to take on any school wanting to issue them a challenge to a food drive, though he did not specify whether such an undertaking would be an annual project or if they would accept challenges on another time scale.
(Photo Credit: Holy Cross Collegiate school)