Last year was a great one, the best year as it relates to Canada's Purolator Tackle Hunger program. That is because last year WE raised 1,149,029 lbs of food for nine local food banks across Canada. And yes, I want to be a part of it again but need your help.
To understand the importance and significance of the program you have to take a moment and imagine what it would be like to go a whole day with nothing to eat. To wake up one morning and wonder how you are going to survive the day. It must be an anxiety wrenching feeling where your goal for the day is not to accomplish or progress, you goal for the day is to survive. And what I would again only have the ability to imagine is if you have kids or dependents who themselves wonder how they are going to survive. Having the sensitivity or even merely the awareness to feel another human being's pain is a remarkable quality of maturity and elegance. In many ways it is a human strength that provides those who have it with a motivation of compassion that creates individual accomplishment. It is very, very true that many times we will do more for others than ourselves and in the case of the Purolator Tackle Hunger program, more for others who we may not even know. The success of the program says a lot about the citizens of Canada and their character as people.
But as in the last 12 years, this year we must again strive to improve and hopefully maintain the effectiveness of the program. Almost half of the food donations that food banks have are for kids, which may be extremely surprising for some. I know it was for me. Twelve years ago when I visited my first food bank in my life as an observer I expected to observe adults only. Older perhaps or physically limited perhaps or just people "down on their luck". I never originally thought I would see so many different types of people from all walks of life and backgrounds. People that were simply laid off due to employment restructure, where when the "restructure" was completed were not asked back. People that were "downsized" due to age or inefficiency who were left with money but not enough to live rationally and reasonably. And even people that I wondered that if the food bank was not here as a resource what they would be forced to do to eat and survive.
If you take hope away from a human being the human being will change and not for the better. You take hope away from a human being and something changes internally. Something inside where you do what you have to do to survive, even if it is at the expense of others. A food bank give people hope. It gives them what they need to get through the day, week, month and gives them hope that in the future there will be better days, weeks, months. I am convinced that food banks keep communities and neighbourhoods safe because they manage desperation.
Still, the most emotionally attaching visual you will see in a food bank are the kids, and I don't mean teenagers or young adults, I mean kids. Infants, five-year-olds who should be in kindergarten. Ten-year-olds who should be out and about doing whatever a 10-year-old does with the mothers and fathers that are there beside them in the food bank. Kids are smart, they are bright because they are very intuitive. They know that going to a food bank is not normal, and they probably know that because their other friends don't go to food banks and hear about it. They understand that this is a place there parents don't want to be because of pride and a place they have to be because they have no choice. If in life you ever need a moment to realize how fortunate you just may be, go to a food bank and watch people. What you may notice is an absence of happiness, and absence of emotion. Just a desire to satisfy a basic need, to eat. And when you notice that in a five-year-old, or a 10-year-old then making an extra effort to donate is no effort at all.
To all those who have donated in the past and to all those who I know will donate in the future I give you the most sincere thanks possible. Your assistance elevates me to do more for others as I know I have so many others working with me. And in the end, it is about acting on a need, an issue of society. Not losing that empowering and respected human quality of being able to feel another's pain and desperation. For 12 years it has been there, and I ask you once more this year to again respond to the challenge of simply helping others who simply need a little help.
Here are the dates to put on your refrigerator or cupboard.
1. Vancouver: Montreal at BC. Saturday, July 19.
2. Regina: Toronto at Saskatchewan. Saturday, July 26.
3. Calgary: BC at Calgary, Friday, August 1.
4. Ottawa: Edmonton at Ottawa, Friday, August 15.
5. Winnipeg: Montreal at Winnipeg. Friday, August 22.
6. Hamilton: Toronto at Hamilton, Monday, September 1.
7. Edmonton: Saskatchewan at Edmonton, Friday, September 26.
8. Toronto: Hamilton at Toronto. Friday, October 10.
9. Montreal: Toronto at Montreal. Sunday, November 2.
Bring your non-perishable food items to the Purolator Tackle Hunger truck located at a visible main gate at each and every CFL stadium on the specific date indicated. Cash donations are also appreciated as every dollar is equal to 2 lbs of food.
Together, let's make 2014 as wonderful as 2013. A little help goes a long, long way.