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Kootenay Save-On-Foods stores raise $21,279 for Angel Flight East Kootenay

Volunteer medical transport service flies patients from Kootenays to Kelowna for medical appointments
Seven Save-On-Foods locations in the Kootenays raised $21,279 for Angel Flight East Kootenay, a volunteer medical transport service that takes regional patients to Kelowna. Pictured, left to right: Brent Bidston, Ted Murrell, Todd Weselake, Jon Stammers, Peter Burke and Dr. Shayne Soetaert.

A volunteer medical transport service has received a significant donation from a collective fundraising effort from regional Save-On-Foods grocery stores.

By offering customers the opportunity to round up transactions at the till, Save-On-Foods stores in seven locations across the East and West Kootenays collected a total of $21,279 for Angel Flight East Kootenay. The fundraising effort from Cranbrook’s Save-On-Foods also included a significant donation from Royal LePage East Kootenay Realty, as well as an in-store draw by donation.

Brent Bidston, president of Angel Flight East Kootenay, accepted the donation on behalf of the organization during a presentation in Cranbrook on Wednesday.

“It’s fantastic, because we serve the whole East Kootenays, but this is the only fundraiser we have that really reflects that and get donations from the entire area we serve.”

“Also, the fact they’re doing it annually for us is also tremendously valuable, to know that we know this is coming is a great bonus for us. We fundraise in all sorts of ways all through the year, but this is really good to know that this is coming on a regular basis.”

Additional fundraising efforts came from Save-On-Foods locations in Kimberley, Fernie, Sparwood, Golden, Creston and Nelson. It’s the third year of fundraising from regional Save-On-Foods stores banding together to raise money for Angel Flight East Kootenay, which has collectively pulled in approximately $57,000 for the charitable cause.

While the pandemic has interfered with some fundraising and charity events, Bidston says businesses and communities across the region have stepped up to allow flights and operations to carry on unhindered.

“We’ve carried on operating — as long as the hospitals take the patients, we get the patients there,” Bidston said.

Bidston, along with pilot Todd Weselake, conduct flights for patients from communities across the Kootenays, typically to Kelowna, on a volunteer basis free-of-charge.

Bidston founded the organization two years ago as a volunteer medical transport service for people attending specialist appointments in the Okanagan.

Donations can be made online and flights can be requested by visiting the Angel Flight East Kootenay website.

Trevor Crawley

About the Author: Trevor Crawley

Trevor Crawley has been a reporter with the Cranbrook Townsman and Black Press in various roles since 2011.
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