Turkey Drive launches with a sweet cookie decorating contest

CBC morning show Edmonton AM celebratied the first day of the annual Turkey Drive campaign with a gingerbread fest. Host Mark Connollly and the morning crew had some special guests in studio Thursday morning to decorate some cookies, Christmas style.

'It's a way you can contribute to making the world a better place'

Doug Hunter, left, Edmonton Food Bank, and Bev Esslinger, City of Edmonton Councillor help kick off the 23rd annual Turkey Drive at CBC Centre Stage. (Krystina Silva/CBC)

The spirit of giving is back at CBC Edmonton with the kickoff of the 23rd annual Turkey Drive.

CBC Radio morning show Edmonton AM celebrated the first day of the annual Turkey Drive campaign with a gingerbread fest.

Host Mark Connolly and the morning crew had some special guests in studio Thursday morning to decorate some cookies, Christmas style.

CBC's Centre Stage was also busy with activity. Volunteers and Glen the Balloon Guy helped start the event.  

The goal this year is to raise $500,000 for Edmonton's food bank — money that will help feed people across the city over the holidays and well in to the new year.

'It helps us provide meals'

"Every dollar that Edmontonians donate helps provide three meals, so that loonie is a powerful donation to feed a person for a day," said Doug Hunter, who works with the food bank.

This year's Turkey Drive campaign has started strong with $75,469.70 raised on the first day. 

Since 1995, CBC Edmonton has raised almost $5 million for Edmonton and area food banks.

Last year's campaign raised $556,199.

Donations can be made online via canadahelps.org, at CBC Edmonton during mall hours, and at Edmonton's food bank. 

"This CBC Turkey Drive is so important for the Edmonton Food Bank, it helps us provide meals for Christmas for our neighbours in need, and helps our agency partners provide Christmas for their Christmas gatherings," Hunter said.

'So much community spirit'

None of this is possible without an army of volunteers. Some were on hand Thursday morning, taking in donations in the mall in front of CBC, which included the first few turkeys of 2018.   

"It's really refreshing to see so much community spirit," said Chinelle Mattis. The 18-year-old Centre High student is volunteering with the Turkey Drive for the first time through her leadership class. 

 And what's a Turkey Drive fundraiser kick-off without a couple of baking experts? 
Great Canadian Baking Show contestants Timothy Fu, left, and Sadiya Hashmi show off their gingerbread people at the 23rd annual CBC Turkey Drive kickoff. (Krystina Silva/CBC)
 

Two contestants from Season 2 of CBC's The Great Canadian Baking Show helped decorate cookies and get everyone into the festive mood. 

'This is my first time' 

"This is my first time with the Turkey Drive, but I think it's a great cause for Edmonton Food Bank," said show contestant Timothy Fu, who volunteers with the food bank on campus at the University of Alberta.

Sadiya Hashmi, another contestant, hadn't heard of the Turkey Drive before she got involved. "I think it's a great way to get everybody in the holiday spirit and sharing," she said.

Glen LaValley, a.k.a. Glen the Balloon Guy, created Dudley the Turkey, a sight to behold. It took about eight hours and 200 balloons to make and is more than Instagram worthy.

"The Turkey Drive makes a whole lot of sense," LaValley said. "It helps people feel good about themselves and it's a way you can contribute to making the world a better place."

The fundraiser continues on throughout the weekend with several activities like outdoor runs, scenic walks as well as a puppy party.

The finale, or Turkey Drive spectacular as it's more commonly known, will be hosted at La Cité Francophone next Thursday, Dec. 20.

For more information, visit cbc.ca/turkeydriveyeg