The CP Holiday Train stopped in Fernie and Sparwood on Sunday night to help the local Salvation Army branch with cash and canned food donations.
Fernie and Sparwood were two of approximately 150 communities that the two brightly decorated trains stopped in. Starting in Montreal, The “Canadian Train” travels west and finishes in Port Coquitlam, British Columbia while the route that the “US Train” takes makes stops across the U.S. Northeast and Midwest before returning to Canada for stops in Saskatchewan and Alberta.
“I thought it went fantastic. A lot of good people and children enjoyed it and adults were dancing around. I thought it went extremely well and it’s good support for the food bank,” said the Salvation Army’s Major, James Hägglund.
The performers for Fernie’s event were Blue Rodeo’s Jim Cuddy, Devin Cuddy of the Devin Cuddy Band and country singer Kelly Prescott. The crowd seemed to enjoy the concert as they were dancing, singing, and enjoying the holiday spirit.
The event brought more people than expected, as the United Church ran out of refreshments before the festivities ended.
“The United Church was out helping, doing the hot chocolate. They served twice as much as they did two years ago and they ran out,” said Hägglund, adding he thinks they served over 400 cups this year.
The Holiday Train raised over a thousand dollars and ample non-perishable items.
“In cash it was a little bit over $1100 that came in. As far as food donations, I had half a truckload that I took back, which is equivalent to 20 to 25 banana boxes of canned goods. The community really rallied fantastically,” said Hägglund.
This is only a portion of what the Salvation Army raises and needs to operate every year. The two largest contributing events are the donations made by mail and the Christmas Kettles.
“It’s been good, what we had donated is just a fraction of what we need and use for a whole year,” he said. “Our Christmas Kettles, which we have out now, are one of our major resources, between that and the donations made by mail. We get the bulk of funding we need that allows us to operate year round.”
Food bank usage has more than quadrupled since Hägglund began working with the Fernie Salvation Army.
“We have a food bank that we have open Tuesdays and Thursdays.We have been averaging 15 to 20 families that come through in a week. It’s more than four times what it was when I first arrived here”said Hägglund.
Hägglund wants to thank everyone who contributed to make the evening great and CP Rail for making Fernie a stop on the train’s schedule.
“I think it was an excellent event. CP Rail is to be congratulated for coming through every couple years,” said Hägglund. “I greatly appreciate the support of the community. I know the use of the food bank has more than doubled over the past year so I greatly appreciate the help of everyone who donated.”