© Photo submitted
A special recognition event was hosted to celebrate the participants supporting the 16th annual Hutterian Brethren/Salvation Army Food Bank Drive.
Vehicle after vehicle again pulled up to the Salvation Army Food Bank this Christmas season, delivering a staggering amount of garden vegetables and farm raised turkeys, chickens and ham thanks to the generosity of the Hutterian Brethren across the Southwest.
A special recognition event was hosted this past week to celebrate the participants supporting the 16th annual Hutterian Brethren/Salvation Army Food Bank Drive. Dating back to 1997, this annual tradition has grown into one of Swift Current's largest charitable donation events thanks to the Hutterian Brethren across the region.
Captain Michael Ramsay from the Swift Current Salvation Army highlighted that the Hutterian community made donations at over 100 times this past year, contributing thousands of pounds of turkeys and chickens, plus fresh vegetables and produce.
"Throughout the year the support is absolutely amazing because it means we can provide fresh produce for people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to have fresh produce. Without the Hutterian communities, we just wouldn’t be able to provide it. It is so amazing. It really is a blessing at Christmas time. It really compounds it, because Christmas is such a special occasion, and so then to be able to give people the fresh vegetables, the Hutterite turkeys, everything that they put together, it really makes it so that the families in need don’t need to be missing anything in that regard at Christmas time. They can still have the full Christmas meal with all the trimmings, and it’s such a blessing to all the communities here and we appreciate that so much, because we wouldn’t be able to do this otherwise," Captain Ramsay said.
On Dec. 11, a celebration event was hosted at the Food Bank to recognize the continued support of the Hutterian Brethren, plus the coordinating efforts of original partners JayDee AgTech, Pioneer Co-op Agro, Bank of Nova Scotia, and Meyers Norris Penny.
"This is the 16th annual Hutterite Day that we’ve been able to celebrate the generosity of the communities supporting those in need in our community. It’s really quite something to have it still go as strong as it is. To be able to celebrate it still going that strong after 16 years is a real testimony to everyone involved," Captain Ramsay said.
Arthur Ward, Regional Sales Manager at JayDee AgTech, admitted their gathering at the Food Bank is always a feel good day.
"It’s exciting to see the community support the community when it’s needed through the Hutterite colonies and the partner businesses. Every year it seems to get bigger, and the need gets larger and with that, the support and donations seem to grow with it every year," Ward said.
No one could have imagined the impact of the program over the past number of years, and the need for the Food Bank has continued to grow.
"It would be wonderful to say that there could be an ebb and a flow if there was years when the need was less, but unfortunately it’s a growing need in our community. I think as we see the diversity of our community as it grows and changes, the needs also grow and change, and that’s why in addition to this program that we’re involved with, there’s other programs that the Salvation Army is very busy with, adding for newcomers and things of that nature. It’s pretty exciting," Ward added.
The celebration event also featured a series of testimonials from individuals who shared how the Food Bank and the Salvation Army has helped give them a boost when it was needed the most. Ward noted this helped reinforced the reason why the donation drive exists in the first place.
"That was awesome this year. I don’t remember in previous years someone coming to give a testimonial like that. To see a young man that you could tell his words were very thoughtful and he spoke very eloquently about the impact that the program and the Salvation Army makes. It was refreshing. You know you’re doing the right thing, but when the people that you’re helping recognize that you’re doing the right thing and they thank you for it, it makes you feel good. It’s nice to know that there are people out there whose lives are being proved or changed.
"We’re also involved in the handout of the hampers next week. I think there’s seven or nine of us from JayDee that come out, whether we’re helping with hampers or handing them out. I appreciate that. It’s wonderful to get to meet the people, and most of them are so thankful. A lot of them have fallen on some pretty hard times, but it’s nice to know that we can support them, because there are lots of us that are very blessed. There are always those that need help and we need to do that."
An inspiring testimonial was presented by a Swift Current newcomer, who after the presentation admitted he was overwhelmed by the sight of the large scale donations from the Hutterian Brethren.
"What first comes to my mind when I see so many good intentions to help out, it reminds me of the blessing of this land. It reminds me of the beauty, the purity of this land and what He offered to us, and how hard people work for it. For less fortunate people, I can tell you that they feel confident and secure having a great Salvation Army. It does remind me how blessed we are by living on this land," he said.
As a resident of Swift Current for four years now, he recalls accessing the Food Bank services within a few days of arriving in the city. Reflecting back on the way he was helped out by the Food Bank and other Salvation Army services, he said his presentation could not highlight enough how grateful he is.
"What I said was not even a quarter of what I feel, I can tell you that much. There’s no way to describe the gratitude that I have towards Salvation Army for the things that have been achieved for a community, as well for my family and I."
And while it took a while to get better established in the community, he does not have any regrets of leaving home and getting a fresh start here.
"I wouldn’t call it regrets, I was asking for a second chance, a second opportunity after all the things that I went through. This is perhaps, my second chance to do the right thing. It was just amazing, a blessing to be around here, and the Salvation Army means in every way a lot. Guiding you and giving you the right advice and perhaps the most important thing they put right in front of you is hope. And nobody can take that away from you."