Ponoka fundraising auction making a difference

Man receiving food donation in Kenya.
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Organizers of the 13th annual Canadian Foodgrains Bank Fundraising Auction in Ponoka are expecting another banner event.

“We’re hoping for 60 to 70 animals to be donated,” said Arnie Tenbrinke, one of the event’s organizers. “This year we’re also stepping things up a bit by offering a free lunch.”

The lunch, Tenbrinke is quick to point out is donated, as is everything at the April 22 event, held at the Vold, Jones and Vold Auction Company facility. Along with the donated dairy and beef cattle — ranging from heifers to cull cows — individuals and companies donate hay, semen, tickets to sporting events, and many other items. Every penny raised goes to the Foodgrains Bank.

“We usually raise about $60,000 to $70,000,” said Tenbrinke. “And the government matches what we raise four to one, so that’s what gets me really excited.”

Foodgrains Bank, which operates in nearly 50 countries, has very low administrative costs, with 97 cents out of every donated dollar going directly into on-the-ground projects, he added.

Newly-dug water dugout
This ‘water pan’ was dug by hand by residents of a village in Kenya participating in a Canadian Foodgrains Bank food-for-work program. Foodgrains Bank photo. photo: Supplied

Wendy and John Taekema, who also help organize the auction, got to see some of those projects after travelling (at their own expense) to Rwanda and Kenya in 2012.

“John and I wanted to go to Africa to see firsthand how things were done there,” said Wendy Taekema. “It’s amazing what they can do with the resources they have.”

In Kenya, the couple saw a food-for-work project to create a type of dugout called a water pan, which collects rainwater during the infrequent rains in the parched country.

“What’s really good is that the projects are chosen by the community — because the residents know what they need,” she said.

A story about their trip can be found by going to www.foodgrainsbank.ca and typing ‘Taekema in the search box.

For more information or to make a donation, call Arnie Tenbrinke (403-318-7503), Larry Henderson (403-782-5218), Peter Doornenbal (403-783-2947), or the Taekemas (780-986-2199).

About the author


Glenn Cheater

Glenn Cheater is a veteran journalist who has covered agriculture for more than two decades. His mission is to showcase the ideas, passions, and stories of Alberta farmers and ranchers.



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