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Up, up and away: CBC Thunder Bay Sounds of the Season takes off with official launch

It is up, up and away for the annual CBC Thunder Bay Sounds of the Season fundraising drive, in support of the Regional Food Distribution Association, which officially took off on December 1. Participating airlines are running a contest, which could see some lucky person win a free flight for making a donation.

Thunder Bay airport, airlines come together in plan to send 3 planeloads of food to northern communities

CBC Thunder Bay, Wasaya, Perimeter Aviation, Northstar Air, the Thunder Bay International Airport and the Regional Food Distribution Association are all working together to send food to the far north.

It's up, up and away for the annual CBC Thunder Bay Sounds of the Season fundraising drive, in support of the Regional Food Distribution Association, which officially took off on December 1.

Organizers are aiming sky high with a plan to surpass the 2016 effort, which saw one planeload of food sent to one community — Sandy Lake First Nation — by striving to fill three planes with food, destined for six different communities, including Neskantaga, Sandy Lake, Sachigo Lake, Weagamow (North Caribou Lake), Marten Falls and Kasabonika.

"It'll happen, no doubt at all," says Ed Schmidtke, the president and CEO of the Thunder Bay International Airport.

The airport is hosting the entire event in the terminal building which "makes so much sense because the food is destined to people that we see coming through Thunder Bay airport all the time," he said.

CBC Thunder Bay Sounds of the Season 2017 Kickoff 2:46

Wasaya Airways, North Star Air and Perimeter Aviation are generously supplying the planes.

"It's a wonderful opportunity to contribute to our communities," said John Beardy of North Star Air.  "We have a number of strategic partners in northern Ontario, where we serve ... It was not a problem to say 'yes' to it."

The initiative also fits perfectly into Perimeter's three pillars "of giving back to the communities we serve, which includes keeping youth in school, the suicide issue and healthy living," said Ron Hell, a director of communications with the company.

It's about "delivering good food to people in the north," he said.

Michael Rodyniuk (left), the president and CEO of Wasaya Airways, along with Ron Hell (centre) of Perimeter Aviation, and Ed Schmidtke, the president and CEO of the Thunder Bay International Airport Authority came together in the CBC Thunder Bay studio to share how their organization is contributing to the Sounds of the Season plan to send three planeloads of food to six northwestern Ontario First Nations communities. (Jeff Walters/CBC )

It's a sentiment Michael Rodyniuk, the president and CEO of Wasaya Airways is certainly onboard with.

"This is easy, it's not hard," he said, noting cash donations can be made simply by pushing a few buttons on a cellphone. 

Getting healthy food, and more of it to northern community "is a need," Rodyniuk said, and that's why the airlines "put our competitive hats off to one side and work together".

However, that's not to say the companies aren't above a little friendly rivalry.

Donation could equal free flight, NHL game

Bearskin Airlines, which is part of Perimeter Aviation is offering three flights for two people each, anywhere the company flies. People can enter the contest simply by dropping off food or money donations at the airlines' ticket counter at the airport.

Wasaya meanwhile is giving people who donate a chance to win a trip for two to Winnipeg, including hotel accommodation and tickets to a Winnipeg Jets hockey game.

People from across northwestern Ontario are encouraged to drop by the airport throughout the day on December 15 with cash or food donations.

The live broadcast of Superior Morning at the airport on December 15 will feature live musical performances by Jean-Paul De Roover. CBC Thunder Bay staff will also be on scene giving away free holiday ornaments while supplies last.

DONATE

Online to the Regional Food Distribution Association (RFDA)

By phone, call 1-855-CBC-SOTS (1-855-768-7222)

In person food and monetary donations collected at:

  • RFDA - 570 South Syndicate Ave, Thunder Bay, ON.
  • CBC Thunder Bay live broadcast on Friday December 15 from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Thunder Bay International Airport