DURHAM — Food banks across the region can receive a boost from a donation-matching program organized by the Pinball Clemons’ Foundation Just Give program and be part of what has been described as the largest food drive in the history of the GTA.
Feed the Need in Durham (FTND) Executive Director Ben Earle announced the initiative, which will run in tandem with its own Spring Food and Fundraising Campaign, to Durham Region mayors and councillors at a regional council meeting April 5.
Just Give is a campaign led by legendary Toronto Argonauts footballer Michael “Pinball” Clemons, and is designed to inspire kindness throughout communities from Niagara to Durham. The aim of the campaign is to fill the food banks for the summer months with 1.5 million pounds of food. Summer is a time when the food banks shelves are often empty, but their client visits increase.
Durham residents Bill and Liam Howe are local ambassadors for the Just Give campaign and have been visiting the region’s mayors to ask for their support.
“It’s essential that the leaders of the community are aware of what we’re doing,” said Bill Howe. “They’re wonderful conduits to community organizations and they understand the importance of food banks locally.”
The father-and-son team from Ashburn aim to visit each mayor in the region and solicit their help by raising awareness of the food drive in their local communities and service groups.
This is the second year FTND has teamed up with the Just Give campaign, which will match every dollar donated up to a maximum of $250,000 from an anonymous donor. The full impact of the fundraiser has the potential to bring $500,000 to the food banks.
FTND is a food distribution hub based in Oshawa, which works with 59 agencies including food banks, shelters, soup kitchens and schools in Durham Region to provide them with a baseline of food support so they can focus on their mandate in the community. Last year, the organization provided 1.7 million pounds of food, a value of $4 million to 6,500 individuals each month, of which 40 per cent are children living in low-income households.
Earle said the partnership with the Just Give initiative would have an impact on their own campaign because of the matching program.
“The great thing about this initiative is that for every dollar we raise there is a matching contribution to be made by the Pinball Clemons Foundation,” said Earle. “It could mean a significant boost to the organization going into the summer months.”
Earle also made the point FTND has the leveraging ability to stretch every dollar of funding it receives into $10 worth of food. So, the end result could be even more.
Earl said the best way to make a donation and take advantage of the matching program is to visit the Just Givewebsite. The FTND fundraising campaign runs from April 4 to May 19.