Julie Van Rosendaal creates reverse Advent calendar for food bank donations

CBC food guide Julie Van Rosendaal came up with a simple idea for donating to the food bank: the reverse Advent calendar.

Idea spreads on social media, reaching more than 170,000 people

A volunteer sorts through donations at the Calgary Food Bank. (Jennifer Lee/CBC)

CBC food guide Julie Van Rosendaal saw the 12 slots in a typical wine box and had an idea — create a reverse Advent calendar to make donations to the food bank.

Donate online any time to the CBC Calgary Suncor Food Bank Drive!

Van Rosendaal says she was motivated by the growing need at the Calgary Food Bank, which has seen 10,000 more clients than last year — many of them children.

"It popped into my head to use a couple of wine boxes which have conveniently twelve sections each ... with little cardboard separators," said Van Rosendaal.

The reverse Advent calendar is an easy way to donate to the food bank, by putting one food item into a slot every day for the first few weeks of December. (Julie Van Rosendaal/CBC)

Since posting the idea on her Facebook page, she says it's reached more than 220,000 people and has been shared more than 1,800 times as of November 30.

"Because the need has increased so much this year, today we made a reverse advent calendar to collect food for the Food Bank," she said in the post. "We put together two empty wine boxes (there will be plenty available at liquor stores these days!) and will add an item every day for the first few weeks of December."

Van Rosendaal posted she's heard the idea has reached the U.K, and also received feedback from teachers who are bringing the idea into their classrooms.

So beginning Dec. 1, put a food item — a can of food, jar of peanut butter or box of pasta — into one of the slots. When the boxes are full, drop them off at the food bank or in the lobby of the CBC building on Memorial Drive. 

"It reminds everyone that holidays are about giving," said Van Rosendaal.