This year’s recession didn’t seem to dampen the spirit of giving at the 40th MCC Festival Auction and Relief Sale. The annual event drew thousands of people to the Abbotsford (B.C.) TRADEX to eat, shop, visit, play, listen, bid, and give, raising more than $650,000 for MCC’s Food for All projects around the world.
The event included foods from Africa, India, Latin America, and from the Russian Mennonite tradition. Folks ate 25,800 vereniki (cottage cheese perogies), 1,500 lbs of farmer sausage, 150 litres of ice cream, and 6 cauldrons of borscht.
But people didn’t just come to eat, they came to give. The auction on Saturday morning began with the symbolic auctioning of a loaf of bread, which sold for more than $213,600 from a multitude of bidders.
Another unique auction item was an oak seedling – grandchild of the great Chortitza oak in Ukraine, a tree with deep cultural significance to Mennonites with roots there. Two buyers paid $14,000 for the seedling, which was planted the next Saturday at the Reach Gallery Museum, Abbotsford. Two additional seedlings went home with each buyer.
Other highlights included the quilt auction, which raised $22,775, and an auction of kid-friendly items, which raised $1,625. Thirty-two cyclists rode 20 kms or 40 kms in a cyclathon, raising $45,000.
Thousands of pennies were counted and rolled at the Penny Power booth throughout the weekend, and beyond. This year’s drive raised funds – matched 4-1 by the Canadian International Development Agency through the Canadian Foodgrains Bank – for food-related projects in India. The coin drives have raised more than $1 million dollars in the past 12 years.
But given that this has been a difficult year for many people financially, the most remarkable figure in this Festival is the more than $118,000 given at the donations booth.
“God is good,” said Dora Hoeppner, relief sale coordinator. “The rain stayed away,… the crowds were huge, the volunteers were amazing, and the atmosphere was pleasant, as always.”