Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Magical First Year in Sparwood !

With this being 18 Wheels of Christmas’ first year in British Columbia (Sparwood) we feel we accomplished our goals and did GREAT with donations!! The response in Sparwood was AWESOME!!

The final numbers that the 18 Wheels of Christmas raised for the Sparwood Food Bank Society was a magical $3350!! We received many donations over $250 from many of the local businesses in Sparwood, the weather was so COLD, most people did not drop off grocery donations but instead dropped off cash or a cheque which allowed us to fill the Christmas hampers with missing items.

We are so excited and thankful of how many people/businesses got on board with the 18 Wheels of Christmas and are looking forward to doing it all over again in 2010!!


From the time we launched in October until we delivered to the Calgary Food Bank in December we were kept busy. We received emails and calls from past and new supporters some asking if the criteria was the same as previous years others asking what we are all about.

Reed Black, Anchor/Reporter, from LandLine Now in Missouri contacted us for our annual launch story he does for the Sirius radio broadcast. It is always exciting and entertaining to do this with Reed. His program gives 18 Wheels so much exposure across Canada and the US. We have had calls from people in Lloydminster and Vermillion as well as local truckers who have heard his show. Thank you, Reed, always a pleasure to speak with you.

We were again invited by Vyetta and Bev to have 18 Wheels of Christmas join them at the always exciting Lake Bonavista Promenade and Douglas Square Mall. These 2 communities have supported us for 7 years and it never ceases to amaze us of the generosity of the residents.

November 14 we were at Douglas Square Mall the weather was much to our liking but Santa was a little warm. The stream of shoppers was steady and all were in the giving mood. Once all the pre-packaged hampers, done up by the great Sobey’s staff, were gone shoppers started to bring out groceries off the shelf it reminds us the convenience of the pre-packaged hampers isn’t the reason people donate it is because they want to. The residents of Douglas Glen and Douglas Dale proved this to us over and over in the 2 ½ hours we were there. Santa was there to greet the wee ones and to hand out candy canes. We left this location with happy hearts and 4 skids of food.

On November 16th we received a call from Leah Carter of the Okotoks Food Bank. Leah wanted us to participate in the annual Okotoks Light Up. Problem was festivities start on November 20th not much time for us to coordinate but Leah and Marg Cox the Okotoks Community Events Planner assured us all would be well they would put the advertising in place etc. This was our first ever evening date and we were looking forward to it. The weather was still co-operating so we felt this would not be a freeze your feet, hands and ears night. Ron Lewin, Mike Rosenau and all the guys from the shop busied themselves to get the original 48’ Christmas Trailer ready for us. Lights and music all powered by our generator which Ron serviced and made certain it was workable. We were scheduled to be in Okotoks at 5PM our instructions were to park at the West end of Elizabeth Street this is the main street in the community and we could not quite figure out how we would get the tractor and 48’ trailer parked so as not to block traffic. When we arrived we found the entire main street is blocked for this function Marg had us park where we would be most visible. The 18 Wheels crew was so excited this is an actual street party and the whole community comes to it. There are hayrides, fire pits set-up along the entire street, street musicians and more. The evening held many surprises for us, not only did the trailer look fabulous but the attention it received was more than we would have ever thought. People stopped, read all the contributors names, questioned us as to what we were about then proceeded to take out their wallets and donate. One gentleman took the time to write a cheque, one lady came around the corner of the trailer with a huge box filled to the brim with donated food. The evening was capped off with fire-works display. We left Leah with over $400.00 in cash and 1 skid of food for the Food Bank. We are excited to say Marg and Leah want 18 Wheels back for next year.

November 28 we were at the Lake Bonavista Promenade 9:30 a.m. sharp. Vyetta was not there this year to help instead she sent her assistant Susan along with Bev to assist in collecting the donated food and money. We were busy from the get-go. We had no sooner opened the trailer doors when donations started rolling in. One family drove right up to the trailer in a large SUV, jumped out and started unloading bag after bag, box after box of food. All we could do was stand back amazed at the generosity of this family this would be what set the tone for the remainder of our time at this location. The 18 Wheels cash can was ¾ full by 11:00 a.m. The people going into the mall would tell us we were the only reason they were out at this time of the morning they wanted to do their shopping with the sole purpose of donating to !8 Wheels for the Food Bank. Carts of groceries were donated, we almost emptied the display of the pre-packaged hampers, Safeway staff members would run out on their breaks with donations of food they had purchased. It always puts a smile on our faces to see not only the young kids but also the older ones (adults) who want to stop and chat with our Santa and receive a candy cane from him. Ah ha moments this morning were everywhere. We left with $573.00 in cash (for the purchase of baby food) and 10 gaylords of food. This was all accomplished in 3 hours. Thank you to Vyetta, Bev, Susan and of course Safeway and the merchants of Lake Bonavista Promenade for making the 2009 campaign a success.

December 4th was a dark and stormy night but our 18 Wheels of Christmas Santa had promised Pastor John of the Millet Food Bank he would be there as the CP Christmas train would not. Santa carefully guided his rig and the original 48’ trailer through one of the worst snow storms we have seen in quite sometime to arrive on time and in one piece to join in the celebration of the Millet Winter Festival. Santa handed out candy canes, enjoyed the festivities of the evening and left the Millet Food Bank $600.00 richer and 411 pounds of food heavier. Santa did say about this event “A colder night there never was but the hearts could not have been warmer.”

With our date of delivery to the Food Bank looming closer we still had a ways to go to at least match last year’s total of 24 skids we were sure we would fall quite short of the target. It was time now to start collecting the food donation gaylords we had set out in different businesses throughout the city and pick up from the other transportation companies who had let us know they once again wanted to participate. Vitran Express had 3 skids for us to pick up we were so grateful and in expressing our thanks were stopped short with this comment “You guys do something great for our city and it is an honor to be on board.” With comments like that it is easy to see why 18 Wheels keeps coming back each year. Calgary Labour Service a supplier to the industry had this to say “We are glad to help out and thank you for what you do.” It is because of our transportation company participants we were able to supply to the Women In Need Society a skid of personal toiletries. To the Okotoks Food Bank and to the Eastside Victory Outreach 10 frozen turkeys each to assist them in assisting others in need at this time of year.

Our final wrap up was on December 21 we were proud and excited to deliver to the Calgary Food Bank 24,000 pounds of food. The comment made to us on that evening was about the good quality of food and how it is we always fulfill the wish list of items needed. We also were able to purchase $877.00 worth of baby food from all our cash donors. We are hoping for a bigger and better year next year.

Reed Black once again did his year end wrap up with us on December 23rd our totals were broadcasted out for all to hear this included the 18 Wheels of Christmas totals from Sparwood BC, Saskatoon Sask, Lloydminster AB, Edmonton and Calgary AB. Way to go guys!!!

Thank you to everyone who participated and helped to achieve the amount of success we have had. Thank you to all our new participants we hope to see you on board next year. A huge thank you to our 18 Wheels of Christmas team without your help and dedication we could not achieve this level of accomplishment.