Six local Rotary clubs have come together to provide more than $32,000 in support to three food banks in Abbotsford and Mission.
The clubs (Abbotsford, Abbotsford-Matsqui, Abbotsford-Sumas, Fraser Valley Rotaract, Mission and Mission Midday) are all part of the larger Rotary International District 5050, which stretches from Hope to Everett, Wash.
The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the cancellation of major annual events.
District leadership made the decision to deploy money that would have been spent on these events back into the local communities in the form of community grants, provided that local Rotary clubs matched those amounts.
The local clubs, many of which have been working with community service groups for years on projects such as Starfish Packs, identified an urgent need to put dollars in the hands of local food banks.
Starting with the matching grants from the Rotary District, the six clubs were able to provide $14,000 to the Archway Food Bank in Abbotsford and St. Joseph’s Food Bank and the Mission Community Services Food Bank in Mission.
The local Rotary clubs then went to individual members with the challenge to add to the district funds. To date, over $32,000 has been contributed to the food banks.
Mission Rotary Club president Lloyd Rash said the food needs are growing every day.
“Hopefully, the support of local food banks by local Rotarians will inspire other individuals and groups in Mission to step up and help meet the ever-growing number of neighbours and friends who need a little help over the coming weeks and months,” he said.
Rotaract president Tyson Boucher said supporting the project went beyond simply helping the food banks with much-needed cash. The club members are between the ages of 18 and 30.
“Our members include university students and working professionals. Some have been laid off from their jobs. We’ve been told by some of the older, more established local Rotarians that our group putting the needs of others ahead of ourselves at a time like this was an inspiration for those older Rotarians to give more,” he said.
Abbotsford Rotary president Bruce Beck was one person inspired by the immediate response by Rotarians in both communities.
“It’s been said that you can tell a great deal about the character of a community by watching how it treats its weakest members: the old, the young, the poor,” he said. “And that test becomes even more important in times of crisis, which certainly is what our communities and country is facing right now.”
The six Rotary clubs are challenging other local service clubs, faith groups and individuals to join the campaign by supporting a local food bank.