A Canadian Christmas tradition will be returning to Castlegar this year when the CP Holiday Train rolls into town.
The train will arrive in the railyard behind the Castlegar Station Museum at 4:20 p.m. on Dec. 12 and the performance event featuring Canadian country stars Terri Clark and Dallas Smith will begin at 4:45 p.m.
The primary purpose of CP Holiday Train stops is to raise money for local food banks, so admission to the event is a food or monetary donation for Castlegar’s Community Harvest Food Bank. CP also makes a food bank donation at each stop.
Community Harvest president Deb McIntosh says the boost the food bank receives from CP Holiday Train events is much appreciated and sets the organization up to start off the new year in good financial shape.
“It gives us confidence and allows us to plan ahead,” said McIntosh. “It means security.”
Having a healthy balance in the bank also allows the food bank to weather low donation cycles and better serve clients.
McIntosh says that 90 per cent of the food bank’s income comes in between November and January.
“The community always pulls together for the food bank in making sure we keep people fed and housed and looked after.
“A healthy balance also allows us to meet the emergency needs of people when they come to see us that other agencies simply can not meet,” added McIntosh.
Each year the food bank puts together about 225 Christmas hampers for local families. McIntosh says beyond the usual pantry staples, donations of things like pickles, coffee, tea, toiletry items and personal care products are always appreciated.
“Anything your family likes to eat, so do our clients,” said McIntosh.
“It’s just about providing some extras for people and some of the basics and making sure everybody feels safe and loved and valued in their community, especially during the holiday season.”
Monetary donations are also very useful as they allow food bank representatives to buy just what is needed for a particular client or to balance out the food donations.
“Poverty is not just about not being able to put food in your cupboard, it comes with a whole lot of other things,” said McIntosh. “With the extra money we can help people deal a little easier with those things.”
So far this year, Community Harvest has spent $60,000 on food for clients and $16,000 to help meet housing needs.
There are a number of other ways to donate to the food bank if you will not be attending the event. Donations can be dropped off at the food bank during operating hours, food and toys can be dropped off at City Hall, cheques made out to Community Harvest Food Bank can be mailed to St. David’s Anglican Church, you can attend a spaghetti dinner fundraiser on Dec. 7 or donate through CBC during their annual Food Bank Day on Dec. 6.
The Castlegar Fire Department will be holding a toy drive at the Castlegar A&W on Dec. 14.