Category: Charity

Coldest Night of the Year 2018

Coldest Night of the Year 2018

This will be my fifth year leading a team of wonderful human beings to raise money for the homeless, hungry and hurting in our community.  The charity may have changed, but the sentiment is still the same.  (That is me in the fuzzy blue monster hat in the video above.)

On February 24th, 2018 we will walk 10 km to raise much needed funds for Bissell Centre, right here in Edmonton. Out of all of the charities that help the less fortunate, Bissell is my favourite.  It is all about inclusiveness.  When a person is made to feel like they don’t belong, or forced to participate in religious practices that are not their own, we cannot expect them to want to embrace a new life, or have hope for a brighter future.

Why “Halloweenies for Hope”?

The original name has carried on all these years… I love the horror genre and most of my closest friends are Halloween addicts.  We love to dress up in costume and entertain (or scare) the masses.  Underneath all of those scary personas lay hearts of pure gold.  We want to give back to the community, we want to give hope for a better tomorrow.


Bissell Centre philosophy is one of hope for human potential and social justice; of trust in the power of community through relationships and inclusiveness; and of resourcefulness with strength and capacity. They respect that people can make their own choices and that they take responsibility for the consequences of their actions.

This is the one big fundraising event that I do every year.  The rest of the year I am volunteering my time, or picking up goods to donate to those that need them, or feeding people in front of Hope Mission…  This one is important though; $200 can help 63 people.  That is amazing my friends.  If my team raises $2000, we can help Bissell Centre help 630 people!

The Walk

Especially during the winter, when you are homeless, you need to keep moving to stay warm.  A good pair of shoes is one of the most important clothing items. They wear out quickly when you are walking 10 km or more per day.

“Coldest Night of the Year” has the option to walk 2 km, 5 km, or 10 km.  I have always chosen the 10 km option because I want to be reminded why I am walking and how many kilometers these people need to cover in a single day.  How exhausting it must be to be stiff and cold and tired all the time.  Then add hungry on top of all of that.

We are fortunate enough to have a warm place to sleep at night that is safe, where we don’t have to be on guard all the time to watch our meager possessions.  We have warm running water so we can take regular baths and showers.  We don’t have to think about where our next meal is coming from.  Everyone should have access to all of these basic needs.  No one should have to go hungry.  Ever.

How can you help?

  1. Sponsor “Halloweenies for Hope
  2. Walk with us!
  3. Volunteer to support the event
  4. Have your own fundraising event
  5. Give goods to Bissell Centre
  6. Volunteer at Bissell Centre at one of the many events throughout the year
  7. Share on social media!

If you have taken time to read this far, thank you very much.  Your support means the world to myself and my team. Watch on my social media channels for video clips and photo updates on walk day!

B’s Diner 15th Annual Christmas Dinner for the Less Fortunate

B’s Diner 15th Annual Christmas Dinner for the Less Fortunate

YEGfoodie was proud to stand behind Brenda Der for her 15th annual “Christmas Party for the Less Fortunate”.

Brenda Der used to be the force of nature behind B’s Diner.  If you were down on your luck and needed a hot meal, all you needed to do was walk into B’s Diner and Brenda would make sure that you were taken care of.  Even though the Diner closed the doors almost two years ago, Brenda still continues to help the less fortunate here in Edmonton.

Brenda lost her son Jeremy in a drowning accident while they were out on a family trip about 7 years ago.  The big Christmas Dinner is done in memory of Jeremy.  It is a very important part of Brenda’s year. This is my third year with Brenda, my second working alongside her as her Volunteer Coordinator.

What does it take to put on a dinner that feeds between 400 and 600 people?  A lot of work!

The initial stages of planning are finding sponsors to get the food for the dinner and the hampers that go out to the families.  Oh I forgot to mention – this isn’t “just” a dinner.   Brenda will generally do at least 50 Christmas hampers for families in need around the city.  She also puts meals together for seniors and veterans.  That is a whole lot of food!

This year we were fortunate enough to have the Forester’s Foundation as our corporate sponsor for the dinner portion of the event.  Many thanks to Jeremiah Renner for putting all of that in motion.  They have to submit a proposal to get the funding and then they go through all of the organizing and work to pick up all of the food items that are needed for the dinner.  Thank you Jeremiah and all of your Forester’s!!

We don’t just provide our guests with a hot meal.  We want for them to be able to relax and enjoy a  holiday environment.  Musicians are a must!  We source talent that is willing to donate their time to this worthy cause.  This year we were lucky enough to have Chantel Hilton back for a second year, and now she is part of the family; we are keeping her and never giving her back. If you have not heard of Chantel, she is a celebrity impersonator.  Her favorite character is Marylin Monroe.  We caught her performance on camera here.

What a stone cold doll!  She worked through our technical difficulties (no bluetooth for the sound system – fancy new Iphone!)

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We also try to make sure that we have warm clothing available for our guests to take if they need it.  In previous years we have had photographers to take photos and the photo printers on site to make sure that the guests had prints that they could give for gifts to family and friends.  We would love to bring this back again next year but we will need to find a corporate sponsor for the printers/ink/paper/SD cards.

It takes a lot of people to volunteer as well to make all of this possible. We can’t thank our volunteers enough!  We are thankful for every single one of you that took the time out of their busy holiday season to give back to the community.  It takes close to 100 people to put this kind of event on.

This is not the only event that this lovely lady does during the year either.  The church that provides the space for the big Christmas dinner also does community dinners for the less fortunate on a regular basis.  Brenda participates in those a few times a year as well.

Are you a musician, good in the kitchen, good with people, a photographer,  just want to give back to the community?  Come out to one of the events and lend a helping hand!  Join our Facebook Group.

This year we fed 438 people.  50 Christmas meal trays went out to families (not enough donations were received for hampers this year).  Several veterans meals and seniors meals also went out for Christmas dinner.  We were able to help a lot of people to just pause and relax.

Cheers to Brenda and all of the hard work she puts in throughout the year.  We love you Brenda!



So not known to many people, but I have a place in my heart for the homeless.  In a country as rich as ours, no one should be going hungry, ever.  Since this is the season where we feel a little more generous and want to give back to the community, I wanted to feature a new charitable venture: LeftOversYEG

A bit of background story first…

At my wedding, it was a huge eye opener.  We had a lot of food left over and we wanted to be able to pack everything up and make sure that someone who needed it could benefit from it.  We discovered that the shelters will not accept any food that has not been prepared in a commercial kitchen.  Period.

I have been doing my best since then to make sure that people that are using the shelter system still have a means of being able to enjoy a good home-cooked meal without having to go through the shelter.  I discovered that there are several groups of people that get together and bring crockpots full of good, hot food directly to the shelters and feed those folks outside that are waiting for a spot to sleep that night.

As a food journalist, I like to keep on top of the latest trends and I am always keeping an ear to the ground for anything food related.

Food insecurity has been a subject that has come up a few times over the past year.

From the Leftovers Calgary website:

“Close to half of food produced worldwide is wasted. Discarded in processing, transport, grocery stores, restaurants, bakeries and kitchens. The Leftovers Foundation is an non-profit organization that rescues food that would otherwise be thrown into the landfill, and ensures it gets to service agencies in need. We deliver perishable food to these locations to reduce food waste and deliver the excess to those in need. We are an organization working to find solutions of a global issue.

Food waste is a $31 billion dollar industry in Canada and 25% of Canadians live in food insecure households.”

Needless to say when Chef Daniel Huber took over the reins of LeftOversYEG, I was very intrigued and had to find out what it was all about.

RR What does food insecurity mean to you?

DH The inability for any Canadian, of any walk of life, income and lifestyle, to access healthy and nutritional food. That can take the shape of a lack of healthy retail or commercial choices in your neighbourhood. All the way to a lack of knowledge on how to cook. As well as having the means to end hunger in a community on the basis of what people throw away.

RR What inspired you to step up and take over Leftovers YEG?

DH To put it bluntly, it is a productive way to both help the community and myself. I get to use my knowledge to help others and I saw an opportunity to get Edmonton on board with an amazing idea. It’s a no brainer.

RR Tell me a bit about Leftovers YEG – what is your main goal?

DH To reroute items that are otherwise completely safe and tasty from being thrown out due to misconceptions, blemishes and a lack of access.

RR What do you need from the community to make this venture successful?

DH Volunteers, get involved at . Come out to events and lend support to change policy locally, provincially and federally. Also, stay tuned for a sweet YouTube channel on how to cook smart and make batches of food that are easy to reheat and use with no waste.

RR Who are the agencies that are currently involved?

DH We have a handful of key partners in the community now, and will be gladly joining up with others as the volume of donations rise. Agencies in the same vein as Bissell are what we target. We will be updated our partnership list Jan 1!

RR How does a restaurant or retailer get involved with this initiative?

DH Drop me a line at and my team will get everything going.

RR What does a volunteer shift look like?

DH It looks like whatever you can do. You drop us a line and we plug you in where it works. If your schedule doesn’t work for our routes we put you on a waiting list and plot it out as soon as we can.

RR What are the requirements to be a volunteer?

DH We have a simple application process to ensure we cover all the basis for health and safety requirements and you must have all your proper vehicle insurance, licensing etc. There is also a super serious waiver. Because saving the world sometimes requires fearless folks!

RR Where do we go to sign up?

DH and follow the links!

RR How can we help get the word out?

DH Share us on social media and tell everyone you know. A great idea only requires a handful of passionate people to catch fire.

So there you have it folks!  A simple way to make a difference in your own community and help make some full bellies while making our city a better place to live.  Win/win!

Please do help spread the word, tell your friends about this great organization.  Volunteer to take a delivery route, show up and lend a hand, there is lots to be done!

Watch my EVENTS page for any LeftOversYEG events!


YEGfoodie Visits Meals on Wheels

YEGfoodie Visits Meals on Wheels

As a Social Media Influencer in Edmonton, I am often invited out to restaurant openings and food events in and around Edmonton.  My favourite things to do are when we have “tweetups” for charity.  This is where influencers get together with the marketing team of a charity and live tweet, Instagram or Facebook information about the charity at a peak time to get the word out to the social media world.

Meals on Wheels has invited me a few times now and sometimes this has been in a setting where I actually get to volunteer in the kitchen.   This was one of those events.

Meals on Wheels is a wonderful charity organization that delivers nutritious meals to a diverse mix of people in Edmonton.  A large percentage of their clients are seniors.  Now that my day job involves working for a Home Care company, I understand how that daily visit with a hot meal is the highlight of that person’s day.  The volunteers are able to make someone smile with a quick daily visit.  “Feeding Body and Soul” is their motto.

Volunteers do make a difference.  It takes 25+ people per day to deliver meals.   Volunteers use their own vehicles.  The shifts are generally about 2 hours and you are given a route map.  It is easiest with a driver and a navigator.

My favourite place though is the kitchen.  Dietary requirements from low fat and allergies to full on medical diets are made in house by a Dietitian and Red Seal Chef.  Volunteers are encouraged to have knowledge of food safety before they come into the kitchen.  Proper attire is required and aprons and hairnets are provided.  Pedal style hand-washing sinks await you.

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There are lots of stations to choose from in the kitchen and it is a great team-building experience for your corporate team.  There are areas to help with preparation, serving areas and packaging areas.  Something for every skill level.  I always find it to be an up-beat experience in the kitchen.   I even got to operate the sealing machine once!

This time around, I got to hang out with the lovely Kim Q. from YEGTweetup.  She is a local social media influencer like myself and she now runs her own social media marketing company.  Go Kim!  We were assigned to do the portioning of some frozen spaghetti meals.  By the end of our 2 hour shift, we had over 220 meals assembled.  It was awesome to be able to chat and catch up with Kim and to be able to help out at the same time.

We learned about the “Grow a Row” program while we were there.  If you have a garden at home, you can “grow a row” for the Meals on Wheels program and deliver it to the kitchen where it will be used in the meals.  If you have excess produce, it can also be donated to MOW.  This means that the MOW clients can enjoy fresh produce as part of the summer program. There are so many ways to help out!

They are having their large fundraiser in partnership with Yellowhead Brewery this year.  Beers and Bands will take place September 21. The night will feature live music from Lindsey Walker & Two Bears North,  brewery tours, a silent auction, raffles, great beer, and so much more. Tickets are $40 and can be purchased online.

Meals on Wheels is not just for seniors, anyone can use the service.  You can also stop by the office and pick up frozen “Chefs Choice” meals as a healthier option to just pop in the microwave when you don’t feel like cooking.

Such a wonderfully diverse charity right here in Edmonton.  Grab a friend and volunteer today!

Red Shoe Crawl for Ronald McDonald House

Red Shoe Crawl for Ronald McDonald House

Have you heard of Ronald McDonald House?

If you have ever had a family member that was in the hospital for more than a few days, then you will appreciate what these folks do!

Ronald McDonald house helps families from outside of Edmonton that have sick or injured children in the hospital.  They provide temporary and affordable accommodation and meals to help lift the emotional and financial burdens during these difficult times.  If you haven’t taken a tour yet, there is a virtual tour available on the website.

The “Red Shoe Crawl” is a Red Shoe Society fundraiser, supporting the Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Alberta. They appreciate all of the participating businesses, and look forward to introducing or re-introducing these great businesses to Edmontonians through this crawl, while they raise money for the RMHCNA!

The 124 Street Business area Crawl features:

  • Dozens of businesses providing culinary delights and samples in support of the Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Alberta
  • Everyone receives a passport so you can check out all participating vendors
  • There will once again be raffle prizes and 50/50 tickets available to purchase
  • Registration is  at 1pm with the event taking place throughout the 124 Street area from 1pm-5pm

Guests can purchase tickets here for only $35 each ($15 for kids, adult 4 packs for only $120):

Red Shoe Crawl Event details:


Red Shoe Society:

Website: (always accepting new Members

Ronald McDonald House Charities Northern Alberta:


Give this very worthy cause a try!  It is a wonderful afternoon walk with friends or family.  Bring good walking shoes and a smile!



Meals on Wheels; Feeding Body and Soul

Meals on Wheels; Feeding Body and Soul

This year I thought that I would do something a little different.

Food, obviously, is a passion.  So is volunteering.  This year I wanted to share some of the charitable organizations in Edmonton that help feed the city.  We have a lot of great volunteers and staff that help keep hunger at bay.

One of the day job duties that I was most happy to perform over the years was to find resources for the clients that I was working with in case of an emergency.  They were on very low incomes, so I learned a lot about where people could go in Edmonton when they need help.  I can’t say I know all of them, because the list is extensive.

The first organization that I would like to share with you is “Meals on Wheels“.

Edmonton Meals on Wheels is a not-for-profit organization that relies on volunteers to provide nutritious meals and related programs which promote health, well-being and independence for the clients they serve.

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