Posted by: marineharvestcanada | December 11, 2009

Spirit of giving is alive and well in Campbell River

By Paul Rudan – Campbell River Mirror
Published: December 10, 2009 3:00 PM 

“I never realized, until I joined Rotary, the volume of work done in Campbell River by volunteers,” Ian Roberts tells his lunchtime audience. “I was dumbfounded.”

Roberts, for those who don’t know, is a spokesperson for Marine Harvest Canada. You know, those fish farmers who are single-handedly “ruining the planet.”

I’m being facetious, but fish farming is kind of like brussels sprouts – you either love ‘em or hate ‘em.

There are, however, some people, like myself, who take the middle road. I think fish farmers are running a fairly decent business here on the West Coast, but it would far better if these fish were raised in closed containment systems. I know there are enormous challenges to doing this but am encouraged by the progress to making closed containment happen.

“You know, we do try to get better at what we’re doing and to improve,” says Clare Backman, Marine Harvest’s environmental expert, as we dine on pasta and salad. That’s good to hear, but this luncheon wasn’t about debating the pros and cons of fish farming. It was about giving back.

Local charitable organizations benefited, once again, from the annual $10,000 donation from Marine Harvest Canada. Four groups each received $2,500 on Wednesday. From front to back are Ellen Latta of the Women’s Centre, Danny Brown of the Knights of Columbus Christmas Hamper Fund, Ann Minosky of the Campbell River Food Bank, Betty Tiede of the Salvation Army, Tom Conlon and Vincent Erenst, both of Marine Harvest. Photo courtesy of the Campbell River Mirror

For several years now, Marine Harvest has donated thousands of dollars to local charitable organizations. On Wednesday, representatives of the Campbell River Food Bank, Knights of Columbus Christmas Hamper Fund, the Salvation Army and the Women’s Centre each received cheques for $2,500. Nice. And the money comes at a time when it is sorely needed.

“It’s been a bad year for lot of people in Campbell River,” explains Ellen Latta of the Women’s Centre. “We hand out vouchers for diapers and we ran out of our year’s supply in February.”

The numbers are up too. Some days the Women’s Centre sees 25-30 women, not including their children, stop by to find help or to just have someone friendly to talk to.

At the food bank, the numbers have gone way up as well. Since July, says manager Ann Minosky, they’ve been feeding 150 new families! These are folks who managed to get by before on meagre wages. Now, however, with job losses all across the city, these people are forced to take handouts.

It’s not something they do lightly, but it’s likely easier to swallow your pride and ask for free food than it is to watch your kids go hungry.

The Salvation Army also does yeoman’s work making sure no one goes hungry through their soup kitchen and sandwich van. And the term “soup kitchen” is a misnomer, thanks in part to companies such as Marine Harvest (along with many of the city’s grocers) which donates 1,500 pounds of farmed salmon a year.

“We pick up 30 pounds a week,” says Doug McGillis, a Sally Ann director. “It’s incredible and it all gets given away!”

That’s what the Knights of Columbus do as well – give things away. Knight Danny Brown has been volunteering with the Hamper Fund for more than 30 years and estimates they will be handing out 1,100 hampers, filled with food and toys, to families and individuals this Christmas. But that number could creep up to 1,200. If it does, it should only be a minor problem because giving generously has never been a problem for the good folks of this city. Even in a less-than-stellar economy, they give food, money and, perhaps most importantly, their time. It’s a spirit which makes Campbell River such a great place to live.

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