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Wilkie Food Bank beneficiary of 2021 CP Holiday Train virtual tour

The CP Holiday Train was virtual again in 2021 but it's mandate to benefit community food banks remained the same

In 2020 the CP Holiday Train was held up at the station because of the pandemic and in 2021, the train was once again put on a siding. That didn’t stop the hosting of a virtual Christmas concert, “With the Holiday Train at Home,” Dec. 18.

CP President and CEO Keith Creel says CP was disappointed they could not bring in-person shows on the Holiday Train to communities along their rail lines, but were pleased CP, along with musicians and singers, to reach out virtually, with hopes everyone enjoyed the program and were inspired to donate to food banks.

In the past, Wilkie, a divisional point for CP, has seen the Holiday Train Christmas concert perform live at the station. The beautifully decorated engines and rail cars, along with the wonderful Christmas carols, are memorable. The hope is that in 2022, the Holiday Train will again leave the siding, heading out across the country.

The concept of the Holiday Train is to give back to the communities along the rail lines in Canada and now the United States. The Holiday Train began in 1999 and has inspired donations of $20.64 million to food banks across the country. The food banks have also collected 4.9 million pounds in donations where the Holiday Train stopped in the communities.

This year the Wilkie food bank received a donation of $3,000. Andria Gutting, a member of the food bank committee, says the donation along with donations from the community has made a difference in the lives of many people.

Gutting says the pandemic has created difficult situations for many people and being able to help when needed is the reason the food bank is exists.

The donation was presented by Rudy Weber, “senior railroader” in Wilkie, who was an employee of the company for 42 years. Weber, at age 89 with a 90th birthday in July, is active, lives in his own home, plays golf every day in the golfing season and has loads of tales to tell about his time as an employee on “the rails.” He said he was proud to represent the company and pleased they are giving back to the communities across the country where the railway has played, and continues to play, a vital role.

"You never know who is need, so that is why our food bank has phone numbers for them to call and to ask for help. It isn’t always easy to make that call, but … we are here to offer a helping hand when needed," says Gutting.

Wilkie food bank is operated by volunteers, with no corporate sponsorship or physical building.

Those who need help accessing food can contact Andria Gutting, Andriana Karstens, Mandy Klein, Nicole Kobelsky or Carolyn Eremko. There are posters throughout the community with phone numbers to call. They are ready and able to help whenever needed.