What began as a simple act of charity has ballooned into an outpouring of support for the Mission Community Services (MCS) Food Centre.
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing layoffs and temporary business closures, the food centre was seeing a greater demand for help, plus a decrease in donations.
At the same time, local businessmen Gary Toor and Jason Tiegen were looking for a way to help the community.
Toor approached Karen Murtagh, publisher of The Mission Record, asking for ideas on where best to donate $10,000.
She suggested the food centre, and a campaign was created.
Toor and Tiegen donated the $10,000 and challenged the rest of Mission to either meet or beat it.
At the time, the goal was to raise an additional $10,000.
“We met that $20,000 goal I believe within a week of Gary originally coming forward,” said Michelle Puffer, executive director at MCS.
But it didn’t stop there. Businesses and individuals saw the need and, despite these tough times, opened their hearts and their wallets.
As of Tuesday, April 28, $55,038 had been collected and more donations continue to come in.
The donations came in a variety of sizes. Puffer said some donated $2,000 or $5,000, others a few hundred and still others were for $25, which can still feed a lot of people.
“It’s a huge blessing. The program is not funded by any government agency; it’s not the food bank, which is funded by the government of BC. The food centre just belongs to us, and we’ve tried to supplement anything for the regular food bank, and the need has just exploded because all of these people are off work and now they can’t afford what they normally do,” Puffer said.
With the sudden increase in demand, the centre was beginning to run out of food. The new surge in donations has given community services the ability to go and buy the food needed to supply the increasing demand.
“What you want to do is buy a lot of staples, so you can stretch them out longer, so people are then able to take that and make 10 meals instead of just two.”
Kevin Tatla, the community resources manager at Mission Community Services, says the donated money will go a long way.
“What we are able to do is, we have suppliers that sell in bulk and when we buy in bulk, we get a significantly reduced price,” he said.
That means they can get even more food for the money than the average consumer.
– With additional files from Patrick Penner