Firefighters bag groceries for muscular dystrophy awareness

Matt Gardner
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Prince Albert firefighters lent their support again this weekend to Safeway’s annual campaign to raise funds for people with muscular dystrophy.

Firefighter Craig Kihn transports a cart full of grocery bags to a customer’s car at the local Safeway store on Saturday as part of the Prince Albert Fire Department’s support of Safeway’s annual campaign to raise funds for individuals and their families affected by muscular dystrophy.

Every year since 2008, Safeway stores across Western Canada have aimed to raise money and awareness for those affected by muscular dystrophy and their families – one of four such campaigns each year along with fundraising for breast cancer, prostate cancer, Camp Easter Seal and the Special Olympics.

Locally, the Prince Albert Fire Department (PAFD) has helped reinforce fundraising efforts for muscular dystrophy, with firefighters posted near Safeway tills on Saturday to bag groceries and help customers transport the bags to their vehicles.

“The firefighters come out every year and volunteer,” Safeway customer service employee Corinne Loch said.

“We always do this week every year in August for muscular dystrophy, and they come out every year and help us.”

Funds are raised at Safeway stores by selling tickets at the cash tills costing $2 each or three for $5. The tickets will be on sale at the Prince Albert Safeway for the rest of this week.

Each donation goes towards supporting individuals with muscular dystrophy, with every $2 contribution also netting the buyer five bonus air miles. Popcorn sales also provide a significant source of funds.

The firefighters’ role is partly symbolic in terms of increasing the visibility of the muscular dystrophy fundraising campaign, PAFD charity committee director Adam Dziadyk noted.

“We support it,” he said. “We’re hoping other people will.”

Yet their help also provides a very real boost to the fundraising, with evidence suggesting the firefighters’ mere presence tends to result in a higher number of donations.

“We’re there for awareness,” Dziadyk said. “What they’ve noticed is more people tend to give money.”

Recalling last year’s fundraising at Safeway, he noted, “It was successful, so Muscular Dystrophy (Canada) asked us to be a part of the bagging of groceries this year as well, and I’m sure it’s something that’s going to happen from every year on.”

What they’ve noticed is more people tend to give money. Adam Dziadyk

In aiding the Safeway fundraising, the PAFD joins more than 800 fire departments across Canada that help raise money for muscular dystrophy over the year.

Annually, Canadian firefighters raise more than $3 million each year for the cause, representing by the far the largest network of people to donate for muscular dystrophy.

Last year, the Safeway in Prince Albert raised $4,500 on the day in which the P.A. firefighters helped bag groceries.

Across the province, Saskatchewan Safeways raised $63,000. Western Canada as a whole raised $994,000 through the Safeway campaigns.

Since 2008, the campaigns have raised a total of $7.5 million for those affected by muscular dystrophy.

Yet for the PAFD, the Safeway campaign represents something of an appetizer for its main fundraising event for muscular dystrophy, which takes place on Saturday, Sept. 6 at Canadian Tire.

Known as the boot drive, it involves firefighters being posted outside Canadian Tire and encouraging customers to fill a boot with donations for the muscular dystrophy campaign.

Last year’s event raised more than $5,000. Canadian Tire owner Malcolm Jenkins matched that donation and has pledged to match donations of up to $10,000 at this year’s boot drive.

“That’s our biggest fundraiser throughout the year for muscular dystrophy,” Dziadyk said.

“The Safeway one is big, but also that’s our big one and we’re going to try to do it every September from here on again.”

Organizations: Prince Albert, Prince Albert Fire Department, Special Olympics Canadian Tire PAFD charity committee Saskatchewan Safeways

Geographic location: Western Canada

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