A little Christmas spirit will go a long way for Central Alberta food banks.
The CP Holiday Train swung through Central Alberta over the past couple days, raising thousands for food banks in Ponoka, Lacombe, Blackfalds, and elsewhere.
The train’s first Central Alberta stop Wednesday was in Ponoka, where the local food bank received a $4,000 cheque from CP Rail. Community members raised more than $1,200 and 1,711 pounds of food at the event as well.
Dean Hill, Ponoka Food Bank president, said donations are vital this time of year.
“Getting the donation from CP is one thing, but the Holiday Train also stirs the community to give and think of others who are less fortunate than ourselves and make sure everybody gets fed,” said Hill.
The money and food donations will support the food bank through the first few months of the new year, Hill added.
The train has stopped in Ponoka for three straight years.
“There was easily several thousand people out for the event,” Hill said. “It was a great show – Colin James and the whole thing was just great.”
The train’s next stop was Lacombe, where the Lacombe Community Food Bank also received $4,000 from CP Rail. More than $1,000 and 1,000 pounds of food was donated by the community.
Millie Snow, Lacombe Community Food Bank and Thrift Store general manager, said the Holiday Train is always a spectacle.
“People are always giving to us, but sometimes it’s nice if there’s a little fun out of it,” she said. “The train was decorated really nicely this year … and it’s always nice to see at night because you can see the lights better.”
Snow said the food bank appreciates all the donations that come from the Holiday Train.
The next stop was Blackfalds where CP handed over a $3,000 cheque. Between 750 and 1,000 pounds of food was donated and nearly $900 was raised Wednesday from attendees.
Jeanette Edwards, manager at the Blackfalds Food Bank, said thousands came to see the CP Holiday Train.
The money from the CP donation and community members will go a long way, Edwards added.
“It’s awesome to see that much raised, especially this time of year. We have a lot of families we’re helping this year so it will be put to good use,” said Edwards.
The Holiday Train kept rolling through Central Alberta Thursday, including a stop in Innisfail.
Brenda Hand, co-ordinator of the Innisfail Food Bank, said the turnout at this year’s Holiday Train was much better than last year.
CP donated $3,500 to the food bank and residents donated about 1,100 pounds of food — cash donations are still being counted.
“We have need every week,” Hand said. “Families are often stretched financially over the Christmas season and these donations are a huge benefit for our clients.”
Seeing all the donations is a “heart-warming” feeling, Hand added.
The CP Holiday Train also made stops in Olds, Didsbury and Airdrie Thursday.