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Kensington BIA creates sense of community, gives back this Christmas

The Kensington Business Improvement Area wrapped up their Christmas gift to the Veterans Food Bank of Calgary today.

Over 30 boxes of non-perishable food items, collected by BIA members at their locations throughout Kensington, are being given to the food bank.

“I think it’s difficult to think of anyone going hungry at any time of the year, but especially at Christmas,” said Annie MacInnis, Executive Director of the Kensington Business Improvement Area.

“The thought of our veterans going hungry, I think is especially painful to many people,” she said.

The BIA’s retailers have been collecting donations since mid-November. An additional $700 in cash is being donated as well to the food bank.

Rebuilding a sense of community by giving back

The Kensington BIA has been heavily focused on trying to rebuild a sense of local community this year.

“As part of Christmas in Kensington, which we have been doing for seven years, this year our businesses wanted to give back even more than we usually do during this time,” said MacInnis.

Because of this, the BIA chose the Veterans Food Bank.

“We decided that this was a cause that we wanted to really support because we know that the there are a lot more people accessing food banks than in the past, and our our economic downturn and Covid have made people feel particularly isolated,” she said.

In addition, Christmas cards created by first and second grade students at Hillhurst Elementary School, will be included with the donation to be given to veterans in Calgary.

MacInnis said she was proud of the work that the grade one and two students did to make cards for veterans this year.

The Veterans Food Bank of Calgary serves over 750 Albertans, many of whom lost their livelihoods as a result of the pandemic. And although the donation period at Kensington businesses is now closed, Calgarians can make donations through the Veterans Food Bank website.

Dome of the items collected by the Kensington Business Improvement Area for the Veterans Food Bank of Calgary, at Parker PR, on Friday, December 17, 2021. The Kensington BIA had donations boxes at 30 of their local retail stores, and collected $700 for a cash donation to the food bank. ARYN TOOMBS / FOR LIVEWIRE CALGARY

Getting Calgarians back into Kensington

Throughout the year, they have been trying different ways of getting Calgarians back into Kensington shops.

“In the spring of this year, my board of directors and myself for Kensington, had two missions in mind: One was to try to get money into the pockets of our businesses to try to help them survive, and the second was to help Calgarians and nearby residents feel safe coming to Kensington again,” said MacInnis.

As part of that, the BIA association has been doing a weekly $1,000 gift card give away contests since the spring.

“In order to enter the contest, you couldn’t enter online, you had to come Kensington physically yourself, and you had to write us a love letter telling us why you loved Kensington, and what you appreciated about Kensington,” said MacInnis.

Saturday, Dec. 18 is the last day to win, but entries have to be done in person in Kensington before their final Christmas event of the year.

This Saturday, the BIA’s Christmas in Kensington wrap-up will be featuring Santa for the kids, stilt-walkers, live music, and horse and wagon rides.

The BIA will also be participating in the City’s upcoming Chinook Blast festival at the end of January.

“So we we are working hard to both encourage Calgarians to come back to Kensington, and and to help our businesses through all of this—and you know we’re doing okay, we’re holding our own.”