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Calgary charities work together to support community programs

Photo by Shea Friesen

A crisis can create opportunities.

The COVID-19 pandemic is testing Calgary as a community, but as Karen Gallagher-Burt, Director of Community Engagement, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Calgary, summed up, it has also created opportunities to help. And Calgarians have responded.

Even with new rules, including social distancing, in place, our community continues to work together.

Gallagher-Burt and James McAra, President and CEO, The Calgary Food Bank, saw a need to work together when COVID-19 hit the city in March.

"People who are struggling to get by and put food on the table are obviously facing a lot of mental distress in those circumstances too," says McAra. 

Because of the close nature of social service agencies in Calgary, the impact of the pandemic was evident early on and several of the staff from the CMHA Calgary started putting in shifts at the Food Bank.

The story of the connection between the two agencies emerged during a socially distanced cheque presentation in November. Calgary Economic Development donated the proceeds of the 2021 Economic Outlook virtual event, presented by ATB Financial.

"In 2020, the Calgary Food Bank has seen more and more people who are new to social services, with half of clients citing they did not expect to be using a food bank,” says McAra. “Because of Calgary Economic Development’s generosity, we can provide quality food hampers for families and individuals during the holiday season.”

“We know that this year is challenging for everyone, especially Calgarians,” says Mary Moran, President and Chief Executive Officer, Calgary Economic Development. “We wanted to support our community by giving to local organizations that have a major impact. This was a great opportunity to help those in need across the city.”

“CMHA Calgary is so thankful for Calgary Economic Development for directing a portion of the ticket sales from Economic Outlook 2021,” says Gallagher-Burt. “This donation means we can continue to provide mental health services in Calgary during such a difficult time. We encourage all Calgarians to reach out for support if you need it.”

December 1 is Giving Tuesday, a movement dedicated to giving back. You can have a major impact on your community by participating through donations or volunteer work. For more information, visit Giving Tuesday's website

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