Not even a worldwide pandemic could stand in the way as Albertans answered the call to make the season kind and delivered big time for CBC Calgary's 35th annual campaign for the Calgary Food Bank.
This year's final tally of $1,447,291is $43,000 higher than the 2019 total, with 63 per cent coming from individuals and communities and 37 per cent from corporations and foundations.
YYCTechGives, a consortium of tech companies in Calgary, donated more than $220,000.
"I think pretty much everything about our annual food bank drive was different this year. COVID forced us out of the lobby here at the station," said Calgary Eyeopener co-host Angela Knight.
"Everything had to transition online, but you know what did not change? You all donated a whole lot of money."
The pandemic made it impossible to stage some of the usual up-close-and-personal events during the campaign.
So instead, the team pivoted to highlighting acts of kindness in the community and put on special broadcasts, virtual events, auctions and online sales — culminating in a resounding success.
The annual One Gray Knight coffee campaign in conjunction with Fratello Coffee Roasters raised more than $36,000 in online sales. The coffee and mugs sold out in 23 minutes on kick-off day.
And Theatre Calgary's Toonies for Turkeys raised more than $77,000 online, while the Old School Bake Sale raised $4,451.
Julie Van Rosendaal's virtual cookie party was a hit, with folks joining from Colorado, Vancouver, Cochrane and Canmore as she hosted 51 people online to bake four types of cookies.
James McAra, CEO of the Calgary Food Bank, said the donations take some of the pressure off the organization.
"I'm elated. This is one of those moments in the year when you go, 'We can do this. We can make sure that there are no hungry people in Calgary. We can support our agency partners. There are so many things we can do with this,'" he said.
The campaign also brought in 9,907 kilograms of donated food.
"This city has been hammered with an economic downturn and now a pandemic, but it won't stop Calgarians from looking out for one another. Every dollar and every act of kindness counts," said Alisha Edgelow, CBC Calgary's manager of communications, marketing and brand.
"The result, it's just so heart warming. For everybody to come out and show support like this, it's emotional."
This was the CBC's 35th year raising awareness and donations for the Calgary Food Bank. In total, Calgarians have helped donate more than $21 million to the organization.
The food bank was founded in 1982 as the Calgary Inter-Faith Food Bank Society with a handful of volunteers and two paid staff. The Calgary Food Bank now runs out of a 60,000-square-foot warehouse.
Last year, it distributed more than 66,000 emergency hampers and helped more than 180,000 people.
Read some of the many heart-warming tales we received of Calgarians and southern Albertans giving or receiving acts of kindness through this tough time: