As a lifelong dairy farmer on beautiful Vancouver Island, waking up early is something Bill Wikkerink has done all his life.
But for one day every year in March, Bill wakes up extra early for a special reason. He’s collecting the cows he and his dairy farmer neighbours are donating to the annual Make a Difference Auction in Abbotsford in support of the Foodgrains Bank.
Bill picks up between 15 and 20 cows from his own farm and that of his neighbours who have agreed to donate, loads them onto his truck, drives them onto the 6 a.m. ferry, and delivers them to the auction.
“As a Christian, I feel strongly about caring for those less fortunate,” says Bill.
Normally, Bill would spend the better part of the day at the auction, enjoying time with other farmers and watching the bidding, which often sees items being sold above market value.
This year though, the auction looked a little different, taking place entirely online, raising over $348,000* — a new record!
“I’ve been blessed for years with good farming, particularly in the past couple years,” he says. “Giving to the Foodgrains Bank is a good cause, and it’s a way of giving back.”
Next door in Alberta, Al Rand, a retired cattle farmer near Bowden, is in his third year heading up a project called Cows for Grain. He started the project in partnership with Foodgrains Bank member Canadian Baptist Ministries (CBM) after hearing about the plight of Syrian refugees in Lebanon and wanting a way to help.
“I endeavour to follow the two greatest commandments,” says Al. “Love the Lord, and love your neighbour.”
This year, Al raised 11 calves. It was a labour of love for the retired rancher, who let the calves graze close to his house where he could enjoy looking out at them. “Seeing the cows and calves everyday was like a medicine,” he says. “It feels good knowing they’re going to a good cause.”
From cows to grain, we are profoundly grateful for the many ways Canada’s farming community comes together to have an impact on people outside our borders experiencing hunger. Thank you for all you do!
Amanda Thorsteinsson, Senior Communications Officer
*The print version of this Breaking Bread article reports over $320,000 was fundraised through the 2021 Make a Difference auction. The final number came in after we had gone to print and has been updated here.