If you’re worried that you missed the Food for Change: Dinner and Dance Fundraiser, that was scheduled for December, then Hope Community Services (HCS) has good news for you. Rescheduled for next Saturday (Feb. 25) at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #228 (Hope Legion Hall), the event includes live music, a three course dinner, a silent auction, and plenty of dancing.
The fundraiser was originally part of the HCS’s annual Christmas programs in order to fund their Holly Days campaign. After poor ticket sales, the fundraiser was rescheduled to February and funds raised from ticket sales will now go towards their Community Food Resources Programs.
The fundraiser starts at 6 p.m., with dinner being served at 7 p.m. and the dance starting at 9 p.m. and ending at midnight. Food served at the dinner will be cooked by HCS’s own chefs in order to show the skill and variety of cuisine provided by the group. Denise DeSorcy, HCS’s co-executive director and one of the organizers for the fundraiser, says the HCS wants to show Hope that they can provide more than just soup and sandwiches, and that the food offered at the food bank, aside from including a range of options such as Chinese food and Mexican food, is also “healthy and low salt as possible.”
The dance features live music by Bob Tarr and Lakeside Swing and the MC for the evening is Staff Sergeant Dwayne Farlin.
“Because of COVID-19 we wanted to do something big and bring people together, since it’s been a long time since they’ve had a decent dance to go to,” says DeSorcy. “We thought that a dance would a good way to bring people together and showcase our cooks and try to raise our funds. And also awareness about the fact that food banks don’t get core funding. And this is one of the ways we make our money.”
In addition to the dance and dinner, a Silent Auction will also be held during the night along with prize draws. Items being auctioned includes (but is not limited to): a collector’s item doll house valued at $600, a driftwood wall hanging made by a local artist, a large basket of pet items from the Coquihalla Veterinary Clinic, a large winter wall picture, a Bradford Exchange Christmas lantern, an air purifier worth $250, a charcoal barbeque, four Chilliwack Chief’s tickets, a Harrison stay (one night and breakfast) package, tower planters valued at $97, a $50 Minter Garden gift certificate, a recipe book (which can hold recipe cards), and a chocolate lovers dream basket.
According to both DeSorcy and Michelle Thornhill, another organizer and member of HCS, the cost of living has greatly increased over the past few years. In particular, with regards to their fundraiser, both members say that the rising prices of groceries can make it difficult to access healthy food when struggling to make ends meet.
To try and alleviate these costs, HCS has been offering programs and services to help feed people. This includes a children’s cooking program, a senior’s program (where seniors are served lunch, socialize, and play cards), and an affordable market (where produce is sold at a lower prices than stores). The affordable market is also available to everyone, not just Food Bank recipients.
However, as food banks don’t receive core funding, the programs and services that HCS offers are dependent on donations, grants, and fundraisers.
“We run into this all the time, even just recently, people assume that food banks get government funding. And we don’t,” says Thornhill. “We have to rely on donations for both funds and food. We have to apply for grants and most of those come with specific criteria. And we depend on fundraising initiatives to raise the funds that we need to operate all of the programs that we run out of the Community Food Resource Centre.”
Both DeSorcy and Thornhill say that while they are grateful to those who have continued to donate, they aren’t seeing the same number of donations they received during the height of COVID-19 and the 2021 floods (which was around $100,000). They attribute this dramatic decline to the high cost of groceries, housing, and gasoline where “everybody is hurting.”
Both DeSorcy and Thornhill hope that the dance will generate enough revenue to keep their programs running. They hope that people will buy tickets and come out to enjoy the event.
Tickets for the dance and dinner are $40 each, though that price lowers to $35 per person if people are buying a table for groups of eight or more. They can be bought from HCS, either online at www.hopecommunityservices.com or at their office on 434 Wallace Street (directly across from the CIBC building). HCS is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday, from 10 a.m. to noon, and Wednesdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
In addition to the dinner and dance, HCS is also hosting the Meat Draw at the Legion Hall this Saturday (Feb. 18) from 3 p.m. till 5 p.m.
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