More than $5,000 worth of food and cash will be split between two local charities thanks to errant parkers.
The City of Whitehorse presented the Whitehorse Food Bank and Kaushee’s Place women’s shelter with $5,525 in cash and food donations from it’s 2021 Food for Fines program.
The program allows residents with parking tickets to donate to the two charities with food or cash to pay off their ticket for a one-week period in December. This year’s program applied to tickets issued between Dec. 4 and 11 with the campaign raising $3,575 in cash and $1,950 worth of food donations. Those with parking tickets issued during that week had until Dec. 15 to pay off their ticket with a donation.
“Thank you to the food bank and Kaushee’s Place for providing such an important service to the community and for continuing to help families in need during the holiday season,” Mayor Laura Cabott said when she presented the donations to the two organizations on Dec. 17. “And lastly, thank you to our bylaw services department and customer service representatives for their hard work this month, it’s greatly appreciated.”
The program has been in place since 2006 with more than $80,000 raised over the years, the amount varying from year to year. 2020’s program raised $8,995 in cash and food.
The Whitehorse Food Bank
For the Whitehorse Food Bank, the benefits of the program go beyond the donations.
“The program’s huge for us,” Dave Blottner, the food bank’s executive director, said in a Dec. 20 interview.
While the donations are a big help, he said Food for Fines also raises awareness about the food bank, which spurs further donations that come in after the Food for Fines program is over for the year.
This year, the food bank is expecting to serve between 2,000 and 2,500 individuals throughout December, an increase over last year’s figures of 1,900.
The food bank also provided 384 Christmas dinner hampers to families on Dec. 16.
“COVID’s been hard on everyone,” Blottner said when asked about the increase in the number of clients.
He said as the pandemic has continued, many people may have been using up savings or lines of credit to make ends meet. Those funds or credit may be running low or have run out, prompting them use the food bank’s services.
Residents can donate to the food bank through its website (whitehorsefoodbank.ca) or in person with cash or food goods (canned vegetables and tomato sauce are especially needed right now) at the food bank on Alexander Street. Blottner also noted residents can volunteer to help. Donations of cash, food and time are all greatly appreciated, he said.
Barb McInerney, the executive director of the Women’s Transition Home which operates Kaushee’s Place and Betty’s Haven second stage housing, said while Food For Fines is always significant for Kaushee’s Place, in 2021 it has become that much more important.
“This year it’s extremely special,” she said in a Dec. 20 interview.
As she explained, the shelter is feeling the impact of increased food costs on its budget while also serving more women at this time of year than in the past, making both the donations of food and funds that much more significant.
The donations will help the shelter purchase a good sized turkey, trimmings and the makings for pumpkin pie for residents.
Each year, festivities at Kaushee’s Place include games and crafts along with the turkey dinner and a small gift for each resident that comes from donations received.
“The community is so generous,” McInerny said.
McInerny also spoke to the impact COVID-19 has had on many women who are living in unsafe situations, noting the message to “stay home” has meant many remining in those unsafe situations. McInerny encouraged anyone who is living in such a situaton to contact the shelter’s crisis line at 867-668-5733.
Donations to the Women’s Transition Home can also be made through its website at womenstransitionhome.ca or by mail to PO Box 31392, Whitehorse, YT, Y1A 6K8.
McInerny said the shelter is also currently accepting donations of lightly used winter gear, such as coats and boots, for women and children.
Contact Stephanie Waddell at email@example.com