Volunteer Linda Washuk chats with donor Rick Hutchins at the Red Deer City RCMP Charity Check Stop. The annual event raised about $23

Charity Check Stop sees outpouring of support

Christmas charities saw a huge outpouring of generosity in Red Deer during the weekend — continuing with what appears to be a great season overall.

Christmas charities saw a huge outpouring of generosity in Red Deer during the weekend — continuing with what appears to be a great season overall.

Organizations including Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Central Alberta Women’s Outreach, the Christmas Bureau and the Red Deer Food Bank rely heavily on their Christmas drives to help fill their bins and finance their activities.

The RCMP’s annual Charity Check Stop and the Stuff A Bus campaign, both held at the beginning of December, are among the key fundraisers those groups use at the start of the Christmas season to raise their profiles and beef up their bank accounts.

Teresa Kutynec, in her first year as president of the Christmas Bureau, said the two drives brought in outstanding results, including a total of $46,000 in cash from the Stuff a Bus and another $23,000 from the Charity Check Stop.

That is a significant increase from last year, when the Charity Check Stop pulled in between $17,000 and $18,000, said Kutynec.

One of the Check Stop volunteer’s eyes danced with delight as she reported getting a number of $100 bills in her bucket.

Whether the cold weather brought out the warmth in people’s hearts or whether they simply felt sorry for the volunteers lined up along Taylor Drive, the outpouring was “awesome,” said Kutynec.

Volunteers were able to take breaks in a mobile unit provided by the Red Deer City RCMP, downing hot drinks and munching on doughnuts while a team of Mounties tallied the cash.

Money and gifts from the Charity Check Stop are split between the four participating charities while the Food Bank and Christmas Bureau share proceeds from the Stuff A Bus program, run at the Parkland Mall.

At the end of the day, however, all of the donations are distributed in a way that ensures a fair share for everyone, said Darcy Ouellet, executive director of the Women’s Outreach.

Sgt. Bob Bell, one of the Mounties at the Red Deer Charity Check Stop site on Saturday, expressed amazement at the way the program has grown.

Bell said the program was first started a number of years ago in Innisfail by a member who was later transferred to Red Deer and brought the idea along. It has spread since then, with similar drives held in outside areas including Sylvan Lake.

MADD Canada volunteers who helped at the Red Deer site said it was their way to help the organization’s continuing effort to put an end to impaired driving.

Among them were the family of Colton Keeler, one of two Red Deer teenagers killed late in March after being struck from behind by a drunk driver. Keeler was killed at the scene while his friend, Tyson Vanderzwaag, died in hospital a few days later.

Colton’s parents, Darren and Brandee and his brothers, Gordon and Chandler all took their turns at the side of the road on Saturday, braving the icy cold to collect cash for their cause.

For the Keeler family, it was a labour of love, said Darren.

bkossowan@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Sasktachewan pup, who has extensive burns, makes her way to Red Deer

Donations accepted for Phoenix who has third degree burns on her body

Man dead in ATV collision in central Alberta

The Rocky Mountain House RCMP are investigating a quad rollover collision that… Continue reading

One airlifted to hospital after avalanche on glacier in Yoho National Park

LAKE LOUISE, Alta. — Parks Canada says it has responded to an… Continue reading

Hundreds of Canadian troops deployed to flood zones in Quebec and N.B.

MONTREAL — Quebec Premier Francois Legault will visit flood-damaged regions north of… Continue reading

WATCH: An ‘Eggstemely Fun Easter’ at Bower Place in Red Deer

Bower Place mall made sure Red Deer families were able to have… Continue reading

‘The Curse of La Llorona’ reigns over weekend box office

LOS ANGELES — “The Curse of La Llorona” (yuh-ROH’-nuh) had only good… Continue reading

New Brunswick premier urges caution as floodwaters continue to rise

FREDERICTON — Rising floodwaters have forced the closure of at least 25… Continue reading

Witnesses still struggling one year after deadly Yonge Street van attack

TORONTO — The survivor guilt settled in moments after he saw all… Continue reading

‘Shocking violation’: Parish prepares to re-bury remains after grave plundered

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — Largely untended for decades, the toppled and faded… Continue reading

President attends Easter service following slew of tweets

PALM BEACH, Fla. — President Donald Trump is using Easter morning to… Continue reading

Easter Sunday blasts kill at least 207 in Sri Lanka

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka — At least 207 people were killed and hundreds… Continue reading

Soldiers deploying to flood-prone areas as water levels rise in New Brunswick

FREDERICTON — About 120 Canadian soldiers will soon be deployed in western… Continue reading

Soldiers deploy across Quebec after flood-caused sinkhole claims woman’s life

MONTREAL — Canadian Armed Forces are deploying in three regions across Quebec,… Continue reading

Most Read