24th Annual Syncrude Food Drive and Corporate Challenge demonstrates Fort McMurray’s strength and resilience

By Anna Noble, Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association

Fort McMurray residents came together during one of the most difficult times this city has faced to once again prove that they are the most giving and supportive community. The 24th Annual Syncrude Food Drive took place this weekend with the goal of raising funds and food donations for families across the Wood Buffalo region, ensuring no one goes hungry this winter.

The Syncrude Food Drive began with the Corporate Challenge on Thursday, December 1st with Syncrude’s CEO Mark Ward kicking off the Corporate Challenge with a pledge of $200,000 live on radio stations Country 93.3 and Rock 97.9. This was over double their pledge from last year, and was an incredible start to the event.

Everyone was then encouraged to call in and donate throughout the day. The response was phenomenal. We saw several organizations step up their donations from previous years to show their support for our city in this challenging time. This year we surpassed our goal of $350,000 and raised $553,290.

The Corporate Challenge was then followed by the Syncrude Food Drive. The event took place over the span of three days from Friday, December 2nd, to Sunday, December 4th. Wilson generously donated all 9 trucks stationed at the local grocery stores and Wal-Mart, and we had our Wood Buffalo Food Bank van parked out at the Anzac Grocery Store. We were very fortunate with the weather this year, as we caught the last of the warmer temperatures right before the cold snap, which was fortunate for the 700 volunteers who came out to help. Over the three days we raised an additional $60,664.15 in monetary donations, and 80,622 pounds of food.

We would like to send out a special thanks to the Suncor Children’s Christmas Party who raised and donated $9140.25 towards our total number of money raised, as well as 1866 pounds of food. This was a wonderful addition to our Syncrude Food Drive donations.

We would also like to thank the Anzac Grocery store for coming on board this year as a grocery store location. The Anzac community collected 2528 pounds of food over the three days, and $267.50. As well, the Anzac/Bill Woodward schools pledged $5000 worth of groceries, purchased at Anzac Grocery. We are so grateful that the Anzac community has come on board to support us.

“The success of the 2016 Syncrude Food Drive and Corporate Challenge could not have been imagined in my wildest dreams,” states Arianna Johnson, Executive Director of the Wood Buffalo Food Bank. “With 20,000 people missing from our city, the economy crippling our families and our region, and the cost of our recent experiences, we braced to see a dip in this years giving. However, in true Fort McMurray style, when the call went out the community responded as they have so many times before and I am sure they will again. It is the first time since the May that I have felt the comfort of home wrapped around me and been at peace.”

The 2016 Syncrude Food Drive and Corporate Challenge collectively raised a grand total of $613, 954.15 in monetary donations, and 80,622 pounds of food. With the increased need this year, this is an incredible success and will help so much in our battle against hunger in the community.

The Board and staff of the Wood Buffalo Food Bank would like to thank all our donors, volunteers, and supporters for their effort over the last 72 hours. The weather was great most of the weekend and we were so pleased to see so many smiling faces. A huge thank you to our sponsors; Syncrude for being our Title Sponsor, H. Wilson for the use of their trucks, Driving Force for the use of their minivans and cube van, Top Knotch Doors for their help doing pick-ups and for their grocery bags, Noralta Lodge for the volunteer snacks, Devco for our banners and signage, Chartwell’s for the coffee and hot water they provided us every day for volunteers, and Rock 97.9 and Country 93.3 for being our media sponsor. Words cannot express how grateful we are of the support we have received. This event feeds a community not just with food, but with faith in humanity and the kindness of neighbours.

A list of the 2016 Syncrude Food Drive and Corporate Challenge sponsors will be found on the Wood Buffalo Food Bank’s website: www.woodbuffalofoodbank.com.

About the Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association
Established in 1983, the Wood Buffalo Food Bank Association provides programs and services that provide the resources and education necessary to ensure food security for all citizens in the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. For more information, visit www.woodbuffalofoodbank.com

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