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Boyle Food Bank fights to keep doors open

When a clerical error left the Boyle Food Bank without food support from its provincial association for three months, volunteer Heather Colgan refused to let its doors close because of it.
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Volunteers for the Boyle Food Bank held a fundraising garage sale July 28. L to R: Samantha Thom, Antony Thom, Irene Coleman, Heather Colgan holding Corey Gladu, Ivory Gladu, Marie Gladu.

When a clerical error left the Boyle Food Bank without food support from its provincial association for three months, volunteer Heather Colgan refused to let its doors close because of it.

“ I see the elderly and the families and the children come in,” Colgan said. “It would have just saddened me to close the doors for three months without trying.”

Colgan, who is in line to become the Boyle Food Bank Association’s next president, put out a call on social media seeking help from the community. She said the community answered, allowing the association to raise money through a garage sale fundraising at the food bank July 27-29.

More fundraisers also started up, with association also raffling a donated quilt and the  Wildrose Villa preparing its own garage sale fundraiser for the food bank.

“The community of Boyle really came together,” Colgan said, adding there should be enough donations to allow the bank to continue running until it can get support back from Food Banks Alberta. “If it wasn’t for volunteers and stuff like that, I really wouldn’t have been able to pull it off.”

The garage sale fundraiser featured a variety of donated items, including clothing, decorations and kitchen supplies.

A miscommunication led to the Boyle Food Bank Association failing to submit its forms to renew its licence, which allows it to receive food from Food Banks Alberta, according to president Marie Gladu. Colgan said she immediately set about to fix it, but it is a lengthy process that takes three months to complete.

“There was a lot of steps I had to go through to wait for the licence,” Colgan said, adding the food bank is still allowed to run while without the provincial association support.

Passing the torch

The Boyle Food Bank Association will also soon have a new head, as long-time president Gladu prepares to step down.

Gladu said she volunteered with the association for 16 years. But the Long Lake resident is preparing to move to Cochrane to be closer to family living there.

Working with the food bank felt good, Gladu said, adding she responded to the need she saw for the service.

“You get to meet lots of people and lots of people, they really appreciate it,” Gladu said. “Boyle, it doesn’t look like people are in need, but they are and this is where they come.”

But the association is in the process of transferring the presidency to Colgan, who is Gladu’s granddaughter.

“It really make me proud that my grandchildren will take over because they see the need,” Gladu said. “And I look at it as that’s from me teaching. That they learnt for me how to help other people.”

Colgan said a desire to help others in a situation she is familiar with is what is motivating her to take on the position leading the food bank association.

“Before I lived with my grandma, times were a little bit tough. So I know what it’s like for a family to go to a food bank,” Colgan said, adding she has no judgement for the people accessing food bank services. “It doesn’t matter if you’re in a wheelchair, on the street or whatever, in the end we’re all the same. Since it’s been in the family, I feel like I would let down a lot of families and a lot of people if I just walked away without even trying to see if I can do it.”

Colgan said the Boyle Food Bank currently helps 20 to 35 families per week, providing food hampers on a bi-weekly basis.

Once the current fundraising drive is complete, Colgan said she is excited to help people access provincial education grants and plans to help keep the food bank running smoothly.

“Just helping people and make sure shelves are stocked. Making people smile and keeping their bellies full,” she said.