Just one week ago, the outlook was bleak for the Edmonton Food Bank.
Donations were down — way down.
“We were very concerned because we hadn’t reached half of our goal for food or money,” executive director Marjorie Bencz said. “We need the resources in to help us provide resources, not just only during the festive season, but into the New Year.”
But Edmontonians rallied and came up with food donations as well as monetary donations in the last seven days. The food bank is now just 50,000 kilograms shy of its 350,000-kilogram goal.
“We only need $100,000 to help us reach our $1.8 million goal,” Bencz said.
“People really stepped up and came forward to help us out.”
The Edmonton Food Bank serves between 20,000 and 25,000 people each month with hampers. Since 2015, demand is up 50 per cent.
“If people are still interested in making a contribution to the Edmonton Food Bank, we still have bins down on Candy Cane Lane until Jan. 1,” Bencz said. “And of course fire halls and grocery stores always have bins.”
One individual Edmontonian is doing way more than his part once again this season.
For the eighth year in a row, Dan Johnstone — otherwise known as Can Man Dan — has been camping out in grocery store parking lots to raise awareness and support for those in need.
WATCH: Can Man Dan camps out to support Edmonton’s Food Bank
“If I can come out here and freeze for a month so some kid can have a gift to open and a warm meal to eat, I think it’s worth it.”
For Johnstone, the cause is personal.
“We used the food bank, Santas Anonymous, Adopt-A-Teen. Every single social program you can think of, we were using.”
His efforts have been fruitful: more than 27,000 kilograms of food donations for the Edmonton Food Bank and nearly $60,0000 for Santas Anonymous to buy toys for kids this year alone.
“When I hear that they’re not doing well, it makes me sad and it makes me work that much harder,” Johnstone said.