10th annual Veterans' Food Bank fundraising campaign on until Nov. 15
Number of people using the service has nearly doubled compared to last year
As the 10th annual Veterans Food Bank campaign kicked off Tuesday, officials said the number of those using the service has nearly doubled from last year.
"It's been a really tough year," manager Marie Blackburn told CBC's The Homestretch.
"We've had double our hampers go out for most of the months throughout the year, and purchasing food over and above what we normally spend has increased dramatically."
September 2015 saw 62 hampers handed out, said Blackburn, a number that jumped to 114 this year.
Run by the Canadian Legacy Project from Nov. 1 to 15, the fundraising effort asks that non-perishable food items be donated at Crown Surplus (1005 11 St. S.E.), which will then be packaged into hampers and distributed along with a $400 gift card to support veterans, their spouses and dependents.
"Most of our food comes from generous Calgarians, schools, major corporations, a lot of church groups," said Blackburn.
Those who rely on the service receive a hamper and gift card every second month.
Clients of all ages
The faces of those receiving the hampers might not be immediately recognizable, said Blackburn.
"Most people think of our veterans as elderly people but we have veterans from 25-years-old up to our oldest veteran we help out is around 98-years-old," she said.
"We have a lot of young guys coming in, and one of the problems when they get out of the service is finding a job —and if they did find a job, keeping that job. With the economy the way it is, there's been so many layoffs," Blackburn explained.
"When they get to that point, where they don't have enough money to pay the rent or mortgage or put food on their table, that's when our service becomes available to help them out."
Finding work after being in the military, especially in a depressed economy, can be tough for some, said Blackburn.
"When a veteran comes home from service, a lot of their skills that they've had to use for military use don't apply," she said.
A lack of work isn't due to a lack of effort, said Blackburn, noting one veteran the group is assisting has applied for work more than 300 times.
Financial donations can be made online to the Canadian Legacy Project or mailed to 210 - 1235 17th Ave. S.W., T2T 0C2.
With files from Monty Kruger and The Homestretch