By Jensen, Randy on May 30, 2020.
Free Fry Day is being declared a phenomenal success by organizers after community response and donations tripled their fundraising target of $100,000 to support HALO Air Ambulance on Friday.
“We are definitely going to triple what our target was of $100,000,” confirmed event co-sponsor Steven Dyck, president of Western Tractor Canada. “We are going to be north of $300,000 today. And so we are just absolutely blown away by the response from the community.”
At Western Tractor’s Broxburn Business Park location in Lethbridge vehicles were lined up onto the highway awaiting their chance to receive some of the 7,500 free bags of frozen fries donated by McCain Food Western Canada. A live brass band played as the fries were brought out to each car individually to be given away.
The fries were being distributed as part of a HALO fundraising awareness initiative, and in solidarity with southern Alberta’s struggling potato farmers and the wider potato processing industry. That industry has experienced well-documented impacts to its french fry market sales with so many restaurants being closed across North America during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The busy scene in Lethbridge was recreated at all four Western Tractor locations – Medicine Hat, Burdett, Taber and Lethbridge – which hosted the fry giveaway at different times throughout day. Co-sponsor J.E.B. Transport provided the refrigerator truck to transport the fries to each Free Fry Day scheduled event along Highway 3.
HALO CAO Paul Carolan said the community support for his life-saving organization at a time when it was facing possible permanent closure by June as it struggled to raise operating funds due to the impact of COVID-19 on its usual public fundraising events is simply phenomenal.
“It has been an incredible day,” he said, “and the outpouring of support is second to none, and it’s a miracle.”
Dyck agreed, and felt the community support shown on Friday was more than enough evidence to prove to the provincial government HALO was a valued service in southern Alberta, and highly cherished by local communities and residents. He called on the province to now do its share to financially support HALO.
“The community stepped up and said ‘we are here,'” Dyck stated, “but we want to make sure government steps up now.”
– With files from Ian Martens
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