During the Centennial Cup tournament this week in Portage la Prairie, one of the teams competing -- the Collingwood Blues from Ontario -- happened to notice some needs in our community and helped out. Salvation Army's Brenda Hammond says the food bank received some much-need help as a result.

"Last week, the Collingwood hockey team was over at the Legion and they saw the lineup of folk that were here to pick up hampers for food bank," says Hammond. "Then they contacted us and asked us if perhaps the Collingwood hockey players could come and hand out hampers with us this Wednesday. They're making a donation to us of $1,500 which we're going to spend all on peanut butter. Then Sobeys found out about it and are going to also donate $1,500 to match the donation."

Cheque presCheque presentation to Salvation Army - Photo courtesy of Collingwood Blues

She notes it's a perfect time for this kind of donation, seeing as their storage is gone and their shelves are low. Hammond explains the farmers haven't had time to provide food yet.

"I want to say thank you," adds Hammond. "We are low in donations and I was actually planning on calling the radio and putting a shout-out. $3,000 is really good. You can buy a lot of groceries with $3,000. We cannot buy all the food and hand it out. It's way too expensive. What we need is regular donations, and the Portage community is very, very generous. This is the time of year that we're often low and we're feeling it."

Collingwood Blues owner David Steele explains the team acquired the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 65 hall to prepare their own meals with their chef. While there, they took notice of people lining up across the street at the food bank. 

"We came in on Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, and saw a great need over here for some help and maybe some donations because they had a lot of people -- I think over 90 people -- lined up trying to get some food hampers," explains Steele. "So, our players and our team have, all year, donated their time and money to different charities around Collingwood. I thought, 'There's no better idea than to do the same thing right here in Portage.' So, we contacted them."

Steele says he spoke with Sobeys, as well, who donated peanut butter.

"We ended up having another $1,500 donation and a few more anonymous donations come in, bringing this, probably, over $2,000 in donations to the Salvation Army. It's so they can keep their people fed and there won't be any people going without for a while, hopefully, here."

He adds they bought part of the peanut butter, as well.  

"We're doing well in the tournament and we're happy to be donating our time and our money," says Steele. "It's for the better of the communities. These players need to see this and they need to learn that this is what people should be doing if they're in a position to do that." 

Sobeys owner Ashley Shmyr says Steele approached her.

"He said, 'I was wondering if you guys were able to help me out. I've been to the Salvation Army. I was speaking to them. They said that they're very short on peanut butter this year.' He really wanted to help out," says Shmyr. "So, I said, 'You know what? I can order the peanut butter for you. We'll give you a good cost.'"

Shmyr says she then went home and spoke to her husband Steven, the other operator at Sobeys.

"He said, 'You know what? We're going to do one better and we're going to match every peanut butter that they bought.' So, we've donated, as well. We have 288 peanut butter jars that we've donated today between us and the Collingwood Blues." 

She adds she also heard that Steele gave a monetary donation, which she notes is very amazing. 

"Someone from outside the community has come in and is helping our community," notes Shmyr.