The Lake Ridge Community Church, Eric’s No Frills, Varico Foundation, and Chestermere Food Bank partnered together to fill food hampers and feed the need in Chestermere.
On Dec. 15, community volunteers collected food hamper items from Eric’s No Frills after hours to fill 61 Chestermere Food Bank December food hampers with four to five boxes of food.
“It was a smashing success. The project went well, we really believed everyone needed a boost of something positive,” said Lake Ridge Community Church Pastor, Evan Dewald.
For Dewald, it was extremely important to support the Chestermere Food Bank volunteers as the majority of volunteers are in the vulnerable group to COVID-19.
“The pandemic has made it very difficult for the food bank to fulfill their commitments when in order to do that they have to put themselves in grocery stores, the last goal was to feed the need,” Dewald said.
Adding, “As a Pastor, I really want Lake Ridge to push back out into the community in serving the community.”
Dewald was inspired to start the Chestermere Food Bank project after hearing the increase of clients the organization experienced in 2020, as the food bank had 76 clients in January and 499 in July.
“The need inspired the project. I know December is worse, and has higher numbers for organizations,” Dewald said.
“We can choose to not meet for public worship, but the decision to go ahead with the food bank project was so important to our leaders, that we decided to go ahead with it because people don’t get less hungry in December, the pandemic didn’t stop people from being hungry,” he said.
To ensure each food hamper was specific to needs, dietary restrictions, and ethnicity, the Chestermere Food Bank President Laurie Dunn, and Executive Director Mardi Oel made unique shopping lists for each family.
“One of the most incredible things about our food was that they identified there are different ethnic needs in our city, and the shopping lists were unique to people’s ethnicity,” Dewald said.
“It was an incredible act of love on the food banks behalf to spend an insane number of hours coming up with shopping lists that would meet people’s needs, they really went above and beyond,” he said.
For Dewald, having community volunteers come and support the Chestermere Food Bank project was a highlight of the initiative.
“They were community people who wanted to do something important and got behind the project. I was excited about that because I don’t think the church should be an exclusive group of people that aren’t connected to their neighbours and their neighbourhood,” Dewald said.
“To see so many folks from our neighbourhoods come and help it was really exciting. Seeing the community come together to meet a need was the highlight of it for me,” he said.
Dewald and the Lake Ridge Community Church team are hopeful to make the Chestermere Food Bank project and annual initiative to support the community.
“What we don’t realize is that even though we live in an affluent community, we still have people who are struggling a great deal, the folks that are struggling are on your street, they live down the road and we don’t know it,” Dewald said.
“We make the assumption that everybody is fine, and everybody is not fine. The measure of a community is found in our mutual concern for each other, if we don’t have a mutual concern then we don’t have a strong or a healthy community,” he said.
Adding, “If we don’t care, or we don’t pay attention to the needs in our community, we can’t say we’re as great as we think we are. I can’t think of a better way to tell people who are struggling in our community that they are cared for, and they are loved than giving them food.”