October 21, 2017 6:57 pm

Calgary military charity switches focus from food to jobs for veterans

Sat, Oct 21: The launch of Calgary annual Poppy Fund is just over a week away. On Saturday the Canadian Legacy Fund announced they won’t be needing food donations so they are switching their focus to housing, jobs and mental health services for veterans. Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports.

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The Canadian Legacy Project started the Veterans Food Drive in support of the Veterans Food Bank at the Calgary Poppy fund over a decade ago.

But on Saturday, the group announced that they will be changing their focus this year from collecting food to supporting programs that help veterans with employment, housing, mental health and PTSD service dogs.

READ MORE: Calgary students try to ‘fill the Boeing’ for Veterans Food Bank


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”We anticipate the Veterans Food Bank at the Calgary Poppy Bank will have the resources needed to help the veteran population they support. With this goal soon to be accomplished, Canadian Legacy Project will not be further promoting this year’s food drive and is asking Calgarians to support their 2017 Veterans Funding Drive,” Canadian Legacy Project president Dave Howard said in a news release.

“We have been overwhelmed with support for Canadian Legacy Projects Veterans Food Drive. We are confident that we will have excess food donations this year and have partnered with the Mustard Seed to make sure they receive food donations also as they are feeding our homeless veterans daily,” Howard said.

“We will monitor the situation at the Calgary Poppy Funds Veterans Food Bank through the remainder of this year and next, to make sure if the food bank needs are met.”

Melanie Mitra works with the Alberta non-profit group Prospect Human Services which runs an employment service for veterans called Forces@WORK.

Forces@WORK connects people retiring from military service with employers who want to tap into that demographic.

“They were stunned to learn that here was this very skilled, capable population with all skill levels that were struggling with employment,” Mitra said.

She said ending a military career is a tough transition for many former soldiers.

“They are facing a major cultural change. They are facing a huge career change. Many of them have never even been in the civilian workforce as they joined at 18.  But on top of that they’re dealing with an injury that has prematurely ended their military career,” Mitra said.

According to Howard in 2016 Calgarians helped raise over $170,000 in cash donations through the Canadian Legacy Project’s Veterans Food Drive, which was used to buy food gift cards and filled four warehouses with food for the Veterans Food Bank which is run by the Calgary Poppy Fund.

“While our food drive goal has been met, it is important to note that this is a trying time for many of our Canadian veterans. They are having a difficult time integrating back into civilian life. Many are unemployed and many are suffering with PTSD. Canadian Legacy Project is a charity run by volunteers and we want to ensure people who support this funding drive that their dollars will be going directly to those in need,” Howard stated.

Donations can be made online at www.canadianlegacy.org

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