by Laura Rodgers, Abbotsford News
The Mennonite Central Committee BC’s Festival for World Relief and Pedaling for Hope Cyclathon together raised nearly two million dollars for the group’s humanitarian efforts worldwide.
The festival, an annual two-day event at Tradex on Sept. 18 and 19, raised nearly $700,000 – and counting – for a variety of MCC charitable projects. Over 20,000 people attended.
A highlight from the festival was the bread auction, an MCC tradition in which local donors bid on a specially prepared loaf of bread. This year, round multigrain loaf went for $157,000.
Wayne Bremner, MCC BC’s executive director, explained the bread’s symbolism demonstrates MCC’s effort to feed the hungry all over the world, directly motivated by faith.
“Friends of MCC take it upon themselves, and challenge their friends to give,” Bremner said. “They say, ‘this is the bread of life.’ ”
Other items on auction this year included a VIP BC Lions football package, a vacation package from Fraser Valley RV, and a private performance from acclaimed violinist Rosemary Siemens. The festival also raised money through a multicultural food fair, gift sales, and a donation booth.
The Pedaling for Hope Cyclathon, a charity bike ride on Sept. 19, brought in over $1 million to help refugees from Syria who are now living in Lebanon. Over 115 cyclists participated, choosing either a 20 km or 50 km course and collecting pledges from friends and family. These pledges netted $130,000, but another $100,000 was matched by “a group of MCC friends,” and that collective total of $230,000 was matched four times over by federal grant to the Canadian Foodgrains Bank.
Funds from the Cyclathon will provide food vouchers to 5800 Syrian refugees currently living in Lebanon, as well as nutrition and health education.
“It’s all done to support MCC’s work, locally and internationally,” Bremner said. explaining that the event’s theme this year was helping uprooted and vulnerable people around the world. There are nearly 60 million displaced people all over the world.