It takes a Village!

Meet our 2011 Community Service Award winners.

Nothing brings family together like a good meal. Same goes for a community. That’s why we were so impressed with MacPhee’s Souris Village Feast. Started four years ago by Alan MacPhee, owner of MacPhee’s Market Save Easy in Souris, P.E.I., and celebrity chef Michael Smith (who lives in the area), this outdoor grill-fest serves up a savoury three-course meal to 1,300 area residents the first Saturday every July.

So daunting are the logistics of the event, even the army pitches in. This year, soldiers from the Canadian Forces base in Gagetown, N.B. trucked in a military kitchen to heat 80 gallons of seafood chowder. MacPhee also counts on big help from his employees. Meat manager Eric O’Brien personally cuts steak for everyone in a tent on-site, and bakery manager Pedro Pereira’s team puts together a sweet dessert menu.

Ticket revenues from the feast go to several worthy causes, including: $32,000 for the Souris food bank; and $43,000 to build school cookhouses in Kenya through the group Farmers Helping Farmers. Now that’s worth breaking bread together.

Our judges said:

“The idea of putting on a feast for the community with the support of a celebrity chef is very creative. It aligns with the core of the business and the needs of the people living in the community.”
Agnieszka Rum, CSR advisor, Canadian Business for Social Responsibility

Camping out for a cause

Maybe after he’d endured another day of rain, it occurred to Tony Klyne that living on the roof of his store for a week wasn’t a good idea. Or perhaps the thought crossed his mind later, when a windstorm punched holes in his tent. Yet Klyne never wavered under mother nature’s wrath, and in one week raised $60,000 for the Edmonton Food Bank.

Tony Klyne camped atop his store on a day it wasn’t raining.

Tony Klyne camped atop his store on a day it wasn’t raining.

What drove the Save-On Foods manager up onto the roof? It started last May when Klyne learned that his local food bank’s cupboards were next to bare. The Edmonton Food Bank, along with others in Alberta, had sent a lot of its stock north to feed the hundreds left homeless when wildfires destroyed the town of Slave Lake. By camping on the roof of his store, Klyne hoped to be a visual reminder of the food bank’s plight.

Of course, Klyne didn’t go it alone. As he set up his tent, his staff headed out to raise donations. Klyne vowed not to come down until $30,000 in food and money was collected on behalf of the food bank. He doubled that amount, and showed just how far a grocer will go for a good cause.

Our judges said:

“I found the idea of living on the roof of the store innovative. It raised a huge donation as well as awareness for the food bank.”
David Soberman, marketing professor at the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management

They shoot. They score for kids

We Canadians live, breathe and eat hockey. So it’s no wonder that when managers at Zehrs in Stratford, Ont. were looking to help out the local Easter Seals, they opted for a good ol’ game of shinny. That was six years ago. Today, Zehrs’ Power Play Road Hockey Tournament is a champion fundraiser.

LET’S PLAY: Zehrs’ store manager, Dave Guite; cooking school co-ordinator, Lynda Sauve; and assistant manager, Paul Johnson, can’t wait for next year’s hockey tournament

LET’S PLAY: Zehrs’ store manager, Dave Guite; cooking school co-ordinator, Lynda Sauve; and assistant manager, Paul Johnson, can’t wait for next year’s hockey tournament

Held the first Sunday every June inside a portable rink set up in the store’s parking lot, the tournament attracts up to 25 teams who play 20-minute games of four-on-four hockey. Each player must collect pledges and all the money raised (including some from rinkboard advertising and a silent auction inside the store) goes to help out physically challenged kids through Easter Seals. To date, $60,000 has been raised.

As always seems to be the case with charity events, people can’t wait to help out. Zehrs’ organizer Lynda Sauve starts getting calls in January from last year’s players, wondering when they can get their pledge sheets. Many teams are fielded by local businesses, including Loblaw stores, Boston Pizza and the fire department. Of course, the winning team isn’t the one to score the most goals. It’s the one that raises the most money. That squad, says Sauve, gets the grand prize: a ride in a limo to see a Toronto Blue Jays game.

Our judges said:

“What an incredible way to mobilize a community. Whether participant or spectator, this event brings the community together.”
James Fraser, partner at retail branding agency Hunter Straker

How to raise a million bucks in a small town

Yes, believe it! In just eight years a tiny co-op in rural New Brunswick has donated $1.5 million to the local hospital, making it the biggest private donor to the area’s health-care system.

How did La Coopérative Régionale de la Baie, in Tracadie-Sheila, do it? Easy. A 50/50 draw. Held in-store every week, it has become a huge hit with customers. Among the co-op’s 9,000 members, some 4,500 participate weekly, says general manager, Roger St-Coeur. Tickets are sold at the cash register and proceeds are split between the winner and charities. In addition to helping out the hospital, the store also pitches in for local minor sports and cultural groups.

GIVING BIG: Thanks to Roger St-Coeur’s grocery store, the hospital in Tracadie- Sheila has a brand new trauma room

GIVING BIG: Thanks to Roger St-Coeur’s grocery store, the hospital in Tracadie-Sheila has a brand new trauma room

Perhaps the 50/50 draw’s biggest success to date came this past April when a state-of-the-art ER trauma room was opened at the hospital–all thanks to a $200,000 donation from the co-op. “It’s the type you’d see on TV or a big city centre,” St-Coeur says. Another testament to Co-op Régionale de la Baie’s fundraising success is that other co-ops in Atlantic Canada have set up their own 50/50 draws.

Our judges said:

“Community involvement is important in any community service initiative and here we have co-op members really helping out to raise substantial sums of money.”
George Condon, consulting editor of Canadian Grocer

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