Edmonton, AB,

Fill Our Fleet fundraiser aims to fill bellies, food bank coffers

Close your eyes and think of the holidays.

Traditions vary, but chances are some combination of gingerbread, turkey and chocolate just danced like sugarplums through your head. So many of our holiday memories are connected to food shared with friends and family. With demand shooting up 23% at Alberta's food banks this year, AMA's 4th annual Fill our Fleet fundraising campaign is aimed squarely at the stomach.

But as food banks have told us, the best way to the stomach is through the wallet. 

"The bread and butter for Alberta food banks are those regular donations from generous individuals to keep the cupboards full," explains AMA's Marketing & Communications VP Jane Flower. "But behind the scenes, food banks work hard to negotiate the best prices. They can actually take a $10 donation and stretch that into 30 meals. They buy smart and make those cash donations go far."

Running from December 12-19, 2015 Fill our Fleet is encouraging all AMA members to donate online at FillOurFleet.ca or drop off cash, cheques or Visa/Mastercard donations at any AMA centre. To make the holidays a little brighter, AMA is also accepting donations of new teddy bears to be added to food bank hampers and distributed to other holiday charities. For every bear dropped off, AMA will donate $10 to food banks, up to a maximum of $100,000.

"We know that 67,000 Albertans are visiting the food banks each month. More than 40% of their clientele are children," Flower explains. "AMA has nearly a million members and if we each found a way to put $10 or $20 to the food banks we could ensure that nobody goes hungry in this province. Even in tough economic times, Albertans look out for each other."

The donation campaign kicks off December 12 when Santa visits selected AMA centres for holiday photos. Photos with Santa are free of charge with a new teddy bear or cash donation to the food bank. Parents and grandparents can avoid the congestion at the mall and get a quick Santa photo while supporting a great cause.

Near the end of the campaign AMA employees will put their muscle where their money is, volunteering with local food banks around the province to drive around and pick up donations. Every AMA employee gets a volunteer day to use in the community, and this year many are choosing to help out over the holidays.

"Food banks need food, they need money, but they also need people," says Flower. "If you can't afford to donate cash perhaps you can help pack hampers, pick up donations, or deliver food to those with reduced mobility who can't get out to the food bank. There's no shortage of ways you can roll up your sleeves and help out."

Contact the AMA Newsroom at 1-888-960-NEWS or ama.newsroom@ama.ab.ca for interviews or more information about #FillOurFleet.