The Calgary Food Bank was started more than 30 years ago by a priest, a minister and a Rabbi. It almost sounds like the start of a bad joke, but it’s the true history of this organization. Religious leaders saw a need to join forces to tackle hunger in Calgary, acted on it, and the Food Bank grew from there into an organization that fed over 140,000 individuals last year.
In their own ways, other individuals and groups have made big, impactful changes from an initial idea, just like the founders of the Calgary Food Bank.
Take Angus Cowan and the Amble with Angus 5K Fun Run for example. The event came to life over a cup of coffee between Cowan and CBC staffer Donna McElligott in 2002. The idea was to host a winter 5K run to raise funds for a cause close to their hearts- the Calgary Food Bank’s Children’s Milk Program. It started small, with a handful of runners taking off for their morning run from the lobby of CBC Calgary, and continued to grow into a 400-person event with a summer edition to boot. In 2015, with the sponsorship of Devon Energy, Amble with Angus brought in over $30,000 in registration fees and donations. It all started with one motivation- to raise funds for milk for kids- and has grown into a much-anticipated annual event.
The CBC Christmas campaign, which contributes over one million dollars in food and funds annually to the Calgary Food Bank, has a similar origin story. In the mid-80’s, CBC staff thought it would be a cool idea to act as a depot for Calgary Food Bank donations, setting up boxes for contributions in their lobby. A staff member who remembers the beginning of the campaign said that they weren’t prepared for the outpouring of support that first year; the 200 square foot lobby piled up with food more quickly than they could have imagined.
This idea, this small gesture has not only become an iconic local campaign in Calgary, it has stimulated similar CBC food drives across the country at Christmas time.
Twenty-two years ago, an individual at CTV Calgary had a great idea, too. She was inspired by a food drive she saw on a trip to Seattle, where a local TV station was working with a grocery store to help their Food Bank at a slower time of year for donations. She brought the idea forward to the Calgary management, and Friends Helping Friends was born! The campaign started as a one-day event that station employees looked forward to volunteering for. Now, Friends Helping Friends is an annual Spring-time food and fund drive engaging all 30 Calgary Safeway locations, CTV staff, and dozens of Food Bank volunteers for an entire month .
Sometimes, a little bit of inspiration is all it takes to change the world for the better. What’s your idea?