Free fries were given away throughout the day on Friday at four different Western Tractor locations in southern Alberta, in an effort to raise funds for the Halo Air Ambulance service.
Starting in Medicine Hat, a J.E.B Transport Ltd. truck arrived with 7,500 bags of McCain fries, then headed to Burdett and Taber, with a final stop in Lethbridge.
Each car that pulled up to the stations received two 6.5 lbs bags, helping encourage southern Albertans to eat potatoes, while also supporting Halo.
Money was raised through donations, which could either be made as people picked up their fries or online.
“It’s amazing, yeah we’ve been having a lot of fun it’s nice to bring our whole team together and have the whole community be able to come together and really support such a worthy cause.” said Troy Aberle, sales manager at Western Tractor.
Halo first put out a plea to the province for help on May 8, asking for more support from Jason Kenney’s government and said they would likely have to scale back operations on June 1, if things didn’t turn around.
However, after a very successful “fry day” the Halo Air Ambulance service may be in the clear.
“We’re not quite ready to make anything official but based on the support we’re seeing, we’ll be taking a hard look at a possible extension over the weekend, and making an announcement as to where we stand early next week,” said Paul Carolan, the CEO, of Halo Air Ambulance.
Halo received a $1 million grant to be used in the last quarter of 2018, and through the first three quarters of 2019, working on a pay-per-service basis outside of that.
In contrast, Stars Air Ambulance received 78 per cent of their funding through community donations last year, which includes funds of $7.8 million from Alberta Health Services.
Those involved in the event say the positive response from the communities has been overwhelming as they were able to raise more than double their $100,000 goal half way through the day.
“We’ve had a tremendous uprising of support, and every vehicle that’s been coming through here as been dropping cheques and kids with piggy bank money, coming to the table and that is so precious,” said Steve Dyck, president of Western Tractor.
The office of Alberta’s minister of health says they are currently reviewing helicopter services province-wide with results expected to be released by the end of the summer.