The CP Holiday Train isn’t riding the rails into Ashcroft this year, but it will be making one special stop: in your home on Saturday, Dec.12 for a free virtual concert on Facebook Live starting at 5 p.m. PST.
This is the 22nd annual Holiday Train event, which since 1999 has been travelling across Canada and the northeastern United States every December to raise money and donations for local food banks. In September CP reluctantly made the decision to cancel this year’s train due to COVD-19, and Trish Schachtel — executive director of the South Cariboo Elizabeth Fry Society — says that a Skype call with CP earlier this year, where the prospect of cancelling the train was raised, was a very emotional event.
“They were so distraught about food banks and the impact it would have, and what it would look like if the train was cancelled. They asked what they could do. They were really kind and thoughtful about the impact, and said they didn’t want food banks and communities to suffer. It was a beautiful call.”
CP decided that even though the train would not be operating this year, all the food banks and communities it usually reaches would receive their usual donation. Schachtel says that the Ashcroft E. Fry Society received $5,500 from CP for its food bank last week. “They were phenomenal.”
In addition to the funds donated by CP, each Holiday Train stop raises additional food and cash donations from those who come to see the show. Last year that amounted to $650 and more than 650 pounds of food for the E. Fry food bank, but Schachtel says that other organizations have stepped in to fill the gap.
“When there were call-outs for provincial and federal funding [earlier this year] I thought the Holiday Train probably wouldn’t happen, so I applied for funding. I got some through United Way that would cover what that loss would look like, so we’re okay.
“Highland Valley Teck always gives us some funds to replace the empty food cupboards for January, and they’re doing that again this year, so we’re set pretty well for winter.” She adds that donations from the public are always gratefully received; anyone who would like to drop off donations of non-perishable food items or cash can stop by the E. Fry Society office at 601 Bancroft Street in Ashcroft and ring the buzzer on the side (north) door.
Schachtel says that they have also been able to get a new commercial deep freeze thanks to United Way and Interior Savings, and they have a new commercial fridge courtesy of Food Banks BC. “Thank you to Ashcroft Home Hardware, who hauled it here and installed it for us.” Both the fridge and freezer are being kept well-stocked thanks to the Kamloops Food Bank, which has a food share program that the E. Fry Society benefits from.
“They get food from grocery stores and restaurants that gets stored at their food warehouse, and we get a call to say what’s available. We got a pallet of frozen chicken two weeks ago, and more is coming. Volunteers pick it up in Kamloops for us.”
The CP Holiday Train’s free virtual concert will be streaming live on Dec. 12. Although the train will look a little different this year, CP is determined to keep the spirit of Christmas alive with this virtual concert. Everyone is invited to celebrate the holidays and listen to some great music, including performances by Serena Ryder, The Trews, JoJo Mason, Logan Staats, and Kelly Prescott. To view the concert, go to the Canadian Pacific Facebook page.