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Charity Checkstop nabs over $23,000

Red Deer’s annual Charity Checkstop raked in tens of thousands of dollars in cash donations as well as a truckload of toys and food on Saturday after taking over a portion of Taylor Drive near 32nd Street.

Drivers passing by pulled into the left lane to toss bills and coins into volunteers’ extended buckets, backing up the northbound traffic for short periods of time.

After the first hour, volunteers had already gathered $5,500 and approximately $23,400 was collected in total from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

It’s a little short of last year’s checkstop that pulled in $24,000 but Teresa Kutynec, Christmas Bureau president, said she couldn’t be more impressed.

“We had an amazing number of volunteers this year. There must have been about 30 of them out there at one point . . . I’m overwhelmed by the generosity of Central Albertans; it was a big weekend with the bazaar at the Westerner and the Festival of Trees just finished but they’re still out there giving.”

All proceeds from the event are split equally between the Red Deer Food Bank, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Women’s Outreach and the Christmas Bureau. The funds are crucial to help finance the groups’ activities and fill the bins for those in need during the holidays.

The Checkstop, running for over 15 years, kicks off Christmas and highlights the true meaning of the season, said Darcy Ouellet, a checkstop organizer and the fund development officer at the Central Alberta Women’s Outreach Society.

“It’s heartwarming to see so many people stop and so many volunteers out there. We have nice weather this year. The last few years have been brutally cold and people still came out,” Ouellet said.

“One woman stopped and asked if we take debit. Then she came back afterwards with cash. Another stopped and opened her trunk and it was just full of toys. Others hand out hundred dollar bills. The volunteers are so enthusiastic. They’re smiling, dancing, waving. It’s fun and people care about it,” Kutynec said.

Caroline Glass hopped out of her truck during the Checkstop and scooped up two plush brown bears the size of a large dog to plunk down into a volunteer’s arms.

She then pulled down the tailgate and pulled out a big cardboard box of toys and games that took two volunteers to lift.

“Every child should have a gift at Christmas,” she said. “I come every year.”

Joan McIntyre, a volunteer with MADD, has been coming to the Checkstop for the past 15 years to help collect donations.

“It’s tradition and a great opportunity to help out a vast amount of charities as well as create awareness for them,” McIntyre said.

The Checkstop originally started out as a RCMP initiative to fundraise for charity and grew into an agency-run event last year.

RCMP members were still on site to help out and manage traffic.

The Stuff A Bus program was also underway on Saturday at Parkland Mall, raising funds and donated items for the Food Bank and Christmas Bureau.

The program broke a record for its 11th annual season, raising over $47,000 compared to the $42,000 raised last year.



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