Abbotsford auction raises record-breaking amount to help hungry people

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


The Make A Difference Auction in Abbotsford, B.C. raised a record-breaking amount of $269,000 to help people experiencing hunger around the world. (Photo: Musu Taylor-Lewis)

When Rob Brandsma saw tubs of ice cream that retailed at $12-14 selling for $100 a piece, he knew it was going to be a good day at the Make A Difference Auction in Abbotsford, B.C.

“They were just these little buckets,” he says. “When you have ten people buying that for $100 each, that is something real special to see.”

With the help of a dedicated team of volunteers, Brandsma organizes the annual auction in support of ending world hunger through Canadian Foodgrains Bank. Volunteers had a good feeling about this year in the days leading up to the auction.

“It was a good vibe, and there were a lot of people stepping up and stepping forward to help out and donate items beforehand,” says Brandsma. “We all had this feeling that something special was going to happen.”

And something special did happen—the auction raised approximately $269,000!

The proceeds will support emergency food distributions in Syria and South Sudan, as well as longer-term agricultural development projects in East Africa. Last year the auction raised about $195,000 and $205,000 the year before that.

“We crushed our record,” says Brandsma. “It’s incredible. I still can’t believe that it happened.”

Traditionally the auction has been mostly cattle and farm-related items, but this year there were plenty of other items up for auction.

“We had a wide assortment of gifts this year,” says Brandsma. “There were wheels of cheese, different farm equipment, rounds of golf, toy trucks, airplane tours of the Fraser Valley, frozen fruits, and even a few truck loads of saw dust.”

One of the larger-ticket items was a brand-new ride-on lawn mower donated by Avenue Machinery in Abbotsford and Kubota Canada.

Donating items wasn’t the only way local farmers and businesses supported the auction. For example, RBC provided lunch for the event goers and staff from local branches helped in the auction ring and passed out bidder tickets. Trouw Nutrition provided coffee and donuts in the morning.

“It’s those kinds of things that are really awesome to see,” says Brandsma. “It’s great to see people step up and support the cause anyway they can.”

As well, not only did the auction have a lot of farmers throughout the Fraser Valley donate cattle, they also had farmers from the interior B.C. and Vancouver Island donate cattle.

“We are tremendously thankful for the generosity of all of the farmers and businesses that participated,” says Brandsma.

Last year, Brandsma visited Foodgrains Bank-supported projects in Ethiopia to see firsthand how fundraisers like the auction are making a difference.

“It was neat to see the different organizations the Foodgrains Bank works with and how those partnerships are making a difference,” he says.

“It’s not just one organization doing this work—it’s a bunch and they’re all doing great things.”

Brandsma notes that it’s also the dedicated participation of the volunteers, donors and buyers who make the auction a success year after year.

“Everybody’s busy, we’ve all got things going on, it’s not like volunteering is our full-time job,” he says. “It’s just great to see all the volunteers come together to help out. Even the people that donate and those who purchase—it all comes together to make a difference overseas.

I just want to thank everybody involved for making this a huge success.”

– Shaylyn McMahon, Communications Officer