While most nine and eleven year olds might be spending their spare time playing video games or hanging out with friends, Abby and Clayton Gilson are in the kitchen. Stirring up their favourites of chocolate cupcakes and Oreo cookie pops, the sister and brother team are focused on raising money for the Calgary Food Bank.
With a shocking 47 percent increase in the use of the Calgary Food Bank since 2014, the efforts of the siblings couldn’t come at a better time. When asked how they feel knowing that 4 out of 10 people who use the Food Bank in Calgary are children Clayton responds passionately.
Leaning forward his dark eyes exude maturity beyond his years.
“It is a great feeling of providing children with meals. Everyone has the right to healthy food.”
Baking since they were toddlers, Clayton and Abby credit their mom Terri as being their “whole inspiration.” With Mom as a competitive cook and baker, recipe developer and food writer it is no surprise this brother and sister chose a bake sale as a way to help out those struggling to feed their family.
No stranger to fundraising through baking, Clayton has in previous years raised money for wildlife conservation and to support food initiatives in Canada’s north.
His essay on the impact of his experience with northern food insecurity won fourth place in the International Youth Food Culture Contest. Notably Clayton was the only Canadian and youngest winner.
Now at the ripe old age of eleven Clayton wants to go big. Taking his sister on as a full partner rather than helper as in previous fundraisers, he approached his school principal with the idea of a giant bake sale.
The enthusiastic school community of William D. Pratt Middle School embraced the idea of baking up profits for the Calgary Food Bank. So much so a second sale was arranged for the spring even before the first began.
Assistants Kiyoshi and Toshiro and a team of student helpers eagerly joined the cause. Generous baking donations from many families flooded the north west Calgary school this week.
With the downturn in Alberta’s economy most everyone knows someone who is struggling. The children at William D. Pratt want to lend a hand.
Abby and Clayton initially tell me they hope to raise $300 for the Calgary Food Bank. With a bit of coaching from Mom Terri they adjust their goal to $500. The final tally at the end of the bake sale extravaganza reaches $1204.
“Will all the money go to the Calgary Food Bank?” I ask as my final question of the two little philanthropists.
“Every nickel!” exclaims Abby before I finish the sentence.
With those dark eyes locking mine Clayton adds, “Every cent.”
How can you support the Calgary Food Bank or your local food bank?
Abby and Clayton have all kinds of ideas for helping the food bank in your own community. Donate items from your own kitchen. Do a food drive at your school or work place. Collect recyclable bottles and donate the money. Do a skip-a-thon. Donate your spare change. Their top suggestion is of course to hold a bake sale.
Should you wish to donate to the Calgary Food Bank you can do so here.
Do you have a food bank in your area?
All photos courtesy of Terri Gilson.