Alberta food drive sets its sights on record year

CALGARY — An Alberta project is hoping to build on last year’s success and is banking on the trucking industry to help keep food on people’s tables during the holiday season.

Now in its sixth year, 18 Wheels of Christmas launched on Oct. 1 and with events planned for Calgary and Edmonton so far, the annual food drive event is hoping to surpass last year’s numbers.

“Last year we took two trailers to the Calgary Food Bank, a 53-foot one and a 48-foot one,” noted co-organizer Colleen Nickel. “And Edmonton joined in and took a full body job.”

Overall, the 2007 campaign netted in excess of $250,000 worth of food, which ended up weighing in at more than 100,000 pounds. It was the most successful year of the campaign to date, but the organizers are hopeful the 2008 season will be better.

“Last year was tremendous,” added Nickel. “But we’re always hoping for more and we’d like to see three trailers this year.”

All volunteers of the program offer their time free of charge, so every dollar and item collected goes directly to the food bank and is redistributed in the community it was collected.

The concept was developed by a couple of employees of Rosenau Transport’s Calgary terminal. The carrier donated a trailer to make the rounds collecting food donations and make the delivery to the food bank. All companies who participate have their names decaled to the side of the special trailer and then it goes back into regular service throughout the year.

The campaign began in 2002 and was designed to provide the trucking industry with a meaningful way to give back to the communities in which they live and work.

“It’s a great way for the trucking industry to give back to the community,” explained Nickel. “Given the tumultuous economy right now, the food banks might be relying on a little bit more generosity this year.”

The 18 Wheels of Christmas campaign will be collecting donations in Calgary at the Lake Bonavista Promenade on Nov. 22 and the Douglas Glen Mall on Nov. 23. In Edmonton, 18 Wheels will be taking collections during the Bright Lights display Dec. 16, 17 and 18.

For more information, you can contact Colleen Nickel or Dale Hart at 403-279-4204 in Calgary, or Jodi Manning at 780-431-0594 in Edmonton, or e-mail

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