Of parking and pirates

Four hundred Christmas hampers are being distributed today. Originally, the Food Bank Society of Whitehorse wasn't sure it would be able to deliver any. Last year, the hampers were given out thanks to a one-time donation.

Four hundred Christmas hampers are being distributed today.

Originally, the Food Bank Society of Whitehorse wasn’t sure it would be able to deliver any.

Last year, the hampers were given out thanks to a one-time donation.

This year, there are less and communities were asked to assess who is most needy, but every bit helps, said executive director Stephen Dunbar-Edge.

“Thanks to lots of donations, Food for Fines included, we will be doing hamper distributions for families who were not covered by Share the Spirit and also singles who normally are overlooked completely in these processes,” he said.

In December and November, the food bank saw about 500 clients, with each client representing more than two people, he said.

In total, the Food for Fines program, which sees city parking tickets paid by either food or cash donations, raised $7,800 – two thousand dollars more than last year.

In total, $4,365 came in cash and $3,435 came in food.

Kaushee’s Place, which runs a women’s emergency shelter and hotline in the territory, will share the donations with the food bank.

They are also in need of help.

“This time of year is usually fairly quiet,” said executive director Barbara McInerney. “Right now, it’s quite busy. Our occupancy is running more than 100 per cent a lot of time, so it will really help.”

The shelter has a 30-day time limit for women who come in. In that time, the women need to find a home or somewhere else to go.

The shelter has been extending that 30-day time limit more than ever before, said McInerney.

If you pay your parking ticket during the Food For Fines program, the money is automatically donated.

But citizens went far beyond their fines, said acting bylaw manager Brian Simmer.

The program ran for an extra three days this year, but there weren’t more bylaw officers on the beat, said Simmer.

The program was well publicized, said Dunbar-Edge.

“I had people call me up saying, ‘I just got a ticket, what do you need?’”

Surrounded by mounds of donated food, Whitehorse Mayor Bev Buckway presented Dunbar-Edge and McInerney with an oversized cheque.

“You can see that our citizens have been really generous,” she said. “A huge thank you goes out to our community for their involvement and their work and their support.”

Personally, Buckway gave $300 this year, $225 more than what Whitehorse’s own Dread Pirate Roberts challenged her to donate.

The challenge was extended to all city councillors and staff as well.

Councillor Betty Irwin said she loves the idea.

“Anyone who’s seen the movie knows that the Dread Pirate Roberts isn’t a person,” she says. “It was an identity, passed on. I think it’s a great idea. If you can have fun with something so serious, why not?”

Both Buckway and Irwin said they couldn’t speak to whether any other city staff met the pirate’s challenge, but Irwin said she left the $75 in dog food at the animal shelter with a note attached, saying it was from the dread pirate.

Councillor Dave Stockdale, who is the fundraising chair for the food bank, ignored the challenge, saying he donates a lot of his time and resources all the time.

“People can only access the food bank once a month,” said Irwin after the donation ceremony. “That’s not enough to keep a hungry person fed. There’s still hungry people, which means we’re not giving enough.”

Contact Roxanne Stasysyzn at

roxannes@yukon-news.com