Calgary Cares: Veterans Association Food Bank sees unprecedented need; businesses step up to help

It’s a need they have never seen before — all brought on by COVID-19.

The Veterans Association Food Bank is a lifeline to hundreds of veterans, offering continued moral support, camaraderie and help with access to mental health and government services. It also provides essentials like food and financial aid.

Staff at the Calgary charity are reporting a 494 per cent increase in veterans reaching out for financial help and a 169 per cent increase in those needing food hampers since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Read more: Calgary Cares: Helping seniors get the groceries they need during COVID-19 pandemic

The charity has also given out more than $21,000 and 304 food hampers since the pandemic began in the middle of March.

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“People come in here — they’re down to their last dime. They’ve got no food. They’ve got nothing,” Veterans Association Food Bank president Tom MacCarl said.

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“We don’t want to lose another soldier over something we can help.”

To help fill that growing need, seven local businesses have banded together for a donation drive this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Alberta Fire & Flood restoration services warehouse in southeast Calgary.

The restoration company has partnered with MBC Group, 4-Star Electric, Graziano Investigation Services, Superior Paint & Body Service, ICS Integrated Claim Services and Economy Glass to put on the donation drive. They are all Calgary-based businesses looking to support the veterans during this tough time.

“We wouldn’t be in our situation in Canada though COVID where we have proper medical — where we have [the] ability to help — if it wasn’t for our veterans in the past that have served for us for our freedom,” said Dianna Adams with Alberta Fire & Flood.

Read more: Calgary Cares: Calgary charity sees huge spike in need, spending $10K per month to help

Donations of food, clothing, cash and household items are being accepted.

Association staff couldn’t be more grateful for any support they receive.

“There’s not enough you can say about it,” MacCarl said. “It just makes you proud to be an Albertan.”

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