Ottawa

Ottawa Food Bank raises $170K in one day with donations from Wu-Tang Clan, Shopify exec

The Ottawa Food Bank received over $170,000 in the span of 24 hours after a social media campaign netted some big-name donations, including from the iconic hip hop collective Wu-Tang Clan.

Flood of donations follows fundraising challenge on social media

From left, Wu-Tang Clan members RZA, Ghostface Killah, director Sacha Jenkins and Wu-Tang Clan members U-God, Cappadonna and Masta Killa. The iconic hip hop group made a donation to the Ottawa Food Bank on Thursday, one of several that raised $170,000 in a 24-hour period. (Arthur Mola/Invision/The Associated Press)

The Ottawa Food Bank received over $170,000 in the span of 24 hours after a social media campaign netted some big-name donations, including from the hip hop collective Wu-Tang Clan.

The surge in donations began with a webcast featuring Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, Shopify COO Harley Finkelstein, and Ottawa Food Bank CEO Michael Maidment.

Finkelstein said he and his wife would donate $1 for every retweet of a tweet announcing the fundraising initiative, up to $10,000.

The challenge set off a flurry of social media activity that has resulted in seven donations of $10,000, and many more smaller contributions, said Maidment.

"I don't know how to react," said Maidment. "It's been incredible just to see it really catch fire."

The co-founders of Ottawa-based cannabis company Hexo Corp., Adam Miron and Sébastien St-Louis, each chipped in $10,000, Miron said.

"I thought it was a heck of a good idea," he said. "So not wanting to bog myself down with too many retweets, I just decided, 'You know what? Let's do this."

Miron responded to Finkelstein's tweet by saying "count me in for $10K," and tagged a number of other accounts and encouraged them to donate, including the Wu-Tang Clan — widely considered one of the most influential hip hop groups ever formed.

Thursday afternoon, Wu-Tang Clan tweeted: "Just made a donation ourselves. Appreciate Canada holding us down all these years."

Miron said he helped orchestrate the Wu-Tang Clan donation by reaching out to the group's management.

"They were really great about it," said Miron. "They're just so willing to help."

Maidment, the food bank CEO, said he knew that something special was happening when the tweet came in from Wu-Tang Clan.

"All of a sudden it's like this new level," said Maidment. "Even my kids think I'm cool now."

The money will help the food bank stock its shelves so that it can help people who have been hard hit by the economic downturn linked to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Maidment.

"We know that the economy is shedding jobs at a pretty alarming rate," said Maidment. "It's going to be tough times ahead but this is the kind of stuff that gives me hope."

The Ottawa Food Bank distributes an average of 14 tons of food each day by working with over 100 local agencies, according to its website.

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