Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No holiday for hunger -- help out

Safeway makes it easy with prepacked donations

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Attention Safeway shoppers: Extra-large Dougs are on special today. In fact, it's a two-for-one sale.

That's what you would have heard Tuesday at the Linden Ridge Safeway, because Blue Bomber legend Doug Brown, who spent his Hall of Fame career terrorizing opposing quarterbacks, and I, a columnist who has spent his career terrorizing bacon-cheeseburgers, were called off the bench to kick off the grocery chain's first-ever Summer Food Drive in support of Winnipeg Harvest.

Had you been there, puttering around in the frozen-food aisle, what you would have seen is "Columnist Doug" hunkering down inside the Winnipeg Harvest bin, clutching several prepacked food hampers and trying to breathe, while "Football Legend Doug," in the interests of charity, wrapped him up in a hard-hitting headlock.

We Dougs engaged in this good-natured supermarket grappling in a sincere and humanitarian effort to encourage you, the charity-minded newspaper reader, to help our food bank fight hunger at a time donations typically dwindle.

As the towering Doug Brown so succinctly put it: "It's an unfortunate reality that people think hunger is seasonal. It's important to make people aware that hunger is a year-round problem in this city."

In the easy-to-follow, step-by-step format, here's what the supersized Dougs want you to do:

Step 1: Go to your nearest Safeway before July 20, when the summer food drive ends.

Step 2: Pick up a $5 or $10 pre-assembled food package from one of the displays in front of the checkout counters.

Step 3: Pay for the hamper, earning five bonus Air Miles for a $5 hamper or 10 bonus Air Miles for a $10 hamper.

Step 4: Drop the hamper in the Harvest bin.

Step 5: Enjoy the warm, fuzzy feeling that only comes from helping others.

"We've been thrilled with the response," John Graham, Safeway's director of public affairs, said as I climbed out of the Harvest bin Tuesday. "Our stores have already restocked hampers, and we hope our customers continue to support Harvest at this difficult time of year."

As a crusading columnist, I asked Chris Albi, Harvest's extremely enthusiastic communications co-ordinator, why the food bank wanted two guys with one name to make the first "official" donation to the drive.

"I LOVE IT!" Chris chirped at a decibel level audible on the International Space Station. "Doug Squared, that's what I'm calling you two. Doug and Doug. Two strapping fellows -- who better to represent Winnipeg Harvest?

"Who won't want to donate after they've seen your sexy mugs in the paper? Once they see Doug and Doug, the donations are going to pour in. We'd even like to see you guys duel. Maybe Doug Brown could tackle you at the Harvest bin for extra donations. OK, he might hurt you a little bit. Ha ha ha!"

I escaped uninjured, but football fans will be happy to hear food-bank volunteers will be hawking the hampers at the entrances to Investors Group Field Thursday night when the Bombers take on the reviled Edmonton Eskimos. Typically, Harvest collects about 450 kilograms pounds of food through its tin-for-the-bin program at home games, along with about $500 in cash donations.

The hampers are available at Safeway stores throughout the year, but this first-ever summer drive is meant to kick-start donations at a traditionally slow time for the food bank.

"This is super-important!" is what Chris told me. "It helps us pad our shelves until fall. What happens is donations tend to dip in the summer -- people go to the cottage, and we're not top-of-mind -- so we really rely on people holding summer food drives for us.

"Usually May to September is a little tough for Harvest. It (the Safeway food drive) is a nice way to make low-income people's summer a little bit happier, with a little more food on the table."

It couldn't be easier, Winnipeg: All you have to do is pick up a prepacked $5 or $10 hamper and pop it in the bin.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 16, 2014 A2

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