Appetite for 18 Wheels of Christmas continues to grow

CALGARY — As people continue to tighten their belts, 18 Wheels of Christmas has expanded its reach.

The annual Alberta-based food drive launched its seventh campaign on Oct. 1 and this year, Saskatoon has signed on to host some community events, as well as the usual events in Calgary, Edmonton and Lloydminster, Alta.

The 53-ft trailer with a special 18 Wheels of Christmas wrap job will be in Saskatoon for the Santa Clause parade on Nov. 22. The trailer will also make appearances in Saskatoon outside local malls on Dec. 12 and 13, with delivery to the Saskatoon Food Bank set for Dec. 14.

“All the food stays in the community it’s collected in,” notes Colleen Nickel, co-organizer of 18 Wheels of Christmas. “So each community reaps its own rewards.”

As well, it’s a volunteer run campaign and since all volunteers of the program offer their time free of charge, every dollar and item collected goes directly to the food bank and is redistributed in the community it was collected.

Last year, 18 Wheels was able to drop off a 53-ft and 48-ft trailer at Edmonton’s Food Bank, as well as deliver a 53-ft trailer to the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank in time for Christmas. In addition to the 53-ft trailer delivered to the food bank in Calgary, 18 Wheels provided three skids of personal toiletries to the Mustard Seed, which is a shelter catering to Calgary’s homeless, and provided 48 turkeys for radio station Vibe 98.5’s Toyurkey Drive (donations of frozen turkeys or toys).

The donations end up totaling about 154,000 pounds, which is more than $250,000 worth of food, given back to the food banks of Alberta’s two largest cities.

In Lloydminster, 18 Wheels of Christmas helped bring in about $25,000 worth of food for the community.

This year, the 18 Wheels of Christmas campaign will be collecting donations in Calgary at the Douglas Square Mall on Nov. 14 and the Lake Bonavista Promenade on Nov. 28.

The 53-ft trailer will be in Lloydminster from Dec. 1 -4, and the original 48-ft 18 Wheels trailer will be in Millet, Alta. on Dec. 4. Special appearances in Edmonton are still be determined.

Companies interested in collecting items for 18 Wheels of Christmas can contact the organizers to set up a collection bin and have it picked up by 18 Wheels when the campaign closes.

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