Of all the fund-raising efforts and community projects the Saskatchewan branch of the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) is involved in, the annual action is the biggest.
“The auction is the largest single find-raising event in the province, of any type,” said coordinator Dave Meier. A lot of CFGB funding comes from community growing projects.
“Some years we’ll have a quarter section project that will raise $100,000, because everything is donated, gets brought in to us and sold.” But the auction tops that.
In its 36th year, the auction brought in close to $140,000, which is a slight drop, but basically on par with the fast few years, Meier said.
The CFGB charity auction takes place annually at the Walter Wiebe farm between Osler and Hague. “It was a real good sale again. They didn’t have as many items, but they had better, newer items. I felt that the people who were there were there to support it.”
Besides a wide range of household and other items, the sale always has at least one market-ready animal that they butcher on site, and cut and wrap to sell meat there. “A lot of ground beef sold for around $20 a pound,” Meier said.
There was plenty of food prepared by the Bergthaler Mennonite ladies for purchase. While cattle sales were down, food sales were up. In fact the sale is a collective effort from about five churches in the Bergthaler Mennonite group.
John Enns is the treasurer for the CFGB and said it’s unrealistic to think sale proceeds can go up every year. He said the sale is not untouched by the general direction of the economy. “It does have an effect. But overall we’re quite pleased with the way things went and we’re looking forward to next year.”
Meier is in his 14th year coordinating the event, dating back to the years when it was still called a Mennonite Food Bank. He says he’s retiring this year, but has being involved because he loves what CFGB does.
“You’re making a difference in thousands of people’s lives. Last year, over 1.1 million people got help from the Foodgrains bank.” The CFGB has been heavily focused in Syria and the surrounding nations like Lebanon and Jordan in recent years. In fact, they have allocated over $29 million into Syria and that area alone since that conflict started.
Meier says over 11 million people have been displaced in the region, many of them because their houses were burnt down and they fled with the clothes on their back.
To provide some perspective he said, “Eleven million people is equivalent to the population of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba. Try to get your head around that.”
Meier said the CFGB assisted around 39 countries last year, helping people out of poverty every day. “It can be through food provision, teaching conservation agriculture, doing water projects, sometimes providing seed for a family after a drought, and providing them with a few chickens or some goats.
“It happens because people like these CFGB volunteers give of their time and possessions and make it happen, and they do that year after year,” he said.