Visibly emotional staff from the Salvation Army and the Cranbrook Food Bank accepted two cheques from the annual Turkey Drive fundraiser, which smashed it’s record this year.
Led by staff and members of the local Chamber of Commerce, the fundraising team — The Little Pluckers — pulled in over $61,000, which will go towards the Salvation Army and the Food Bank for their Christmas Hamper program.
It’s a trend that keeps continuing upwards, as last year’s total of $48,000 — another record-breaking amount — had also surpassed the organization’s goal.
“I’m absolutely astonished,” said Jason Wheeldon, the Head Turkey and leader of the Little Pluckers. “Everyone that lives in Cranbrook knows it’s a generous community. We look out for our neighbours, we look out for our friends and families, but this year it was just a resounding total. We thought we were going to have a challenge this year hitting $45,000 and we shattered it.”
The Little Pluckers were comprised of local community and business leaders including Michael Hardy, Donna Grainger, Chris Shumka, Heather Jackson, Chad Jensen, Chris Thom, Karin Penner, Jason Wheeldon, Warren Bedell, Steve Zsillei, Mike Adams, Laurie Goodlad.
“Each year, we put together 12 celebrity pledgers, those are our Little Pluckers,” said Wheeldon. “We try to rotate them through so as to not burn anybody out, but there’s been a few since the inception — Karin Penner, Chris Thom — they come back for continued support because they believe in the cause.”
The top fundraiser is always acknowledged when the Turkey Drive organizers reveal their total, and this year, Karin Penner defended her title as Chief Turkey from last year, raising $17,500 in donations and pledges.
“While many Pluckers were bringing in hundreds or thousands of dollars at a go, Karin brought in a multitude of $20 donations,” said Wheeldon. “She even solicited a donation from England. She was absolutely remarkable.”
Over 750 community members and businesses contributed towards the Turkey Drive, culminating in a all-out final push on Thursday, Dec. 8, as volunteers flooded the Chamber office to work the phones.
However, the fundraising effort is not over as donations can still be made online right up to Dec. 24. All the donations are processed by the Chamber staff, making sure that 100 per cent of the money goes towards the two charities.
Since the Turkey Drive began seven years ago, Cranbrook has raised $170,000 for the Salvation Army and the Food Bank, which prepare Christmas hampers of food for families in need during the holiday season.