With Calgary's Veterans Foodbank shutting down several months ago, a High Riverite is doing her part in helping out those who served Canada, by organizing a grassroots food bank.

Founder of the local initiative called "Food For Strength," Dianna Perrigo says the lack of government support for veterans inspired her to take action.

"It was upsetting and very, very frustrating as I have service members in my family and I see a lot in town, so I was very upset and wanted to do something to help out."

In response, Perrigo has teamed up with the Veteran's Association and its newly formed Calgary Veteran's Foodbank, to help gather food items, hygienic supplies and other medical items such as crutches and wheel chairs.

Perrigo says when she realized provincial support for veterans was limited, she needed to work in collaboration with local residents and businesses to fill the growing need for support in the veteran community.

"There is not a lot of support from the government and I think it's now on the community to step in and show support for these men and women and give them what they need to survive."

Perrigo says shortly after commencing her campaign, she was surprised with by the influx of local support.

"I started putting it on social media and all of a sudden everyone wanted to help, everyone is dropping off donations and local businesses got on board. Within minutes of putting posts up and talking to people, it was like 'how can we help? What is the list of needed items? How can we do this?'"

Wayne Lapointe is a veteran with four years of military service and a former member of the old Veteran's Foodbank, who says life is not simple for those leaving the service.

"I was a vehicle mechanic in the forces stationed at Cold Lake, as soon as I got my release, I tried looking for work. Just about four years of experience didn't mean a darn thing when I got out on the street."

Lapointe notes that when employment struggles are coupled with other problems faced by veterans leaving their service, it can be difficult to get their lives on track.

"There's so many different problems that veterans encounter. We just got started with the AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) to come in for counseling sessions just for veterans. It's a little hard for veterans to talk to someone about alcoholism that's not a veteran, because of our unique experiences."

Lapointe says despite the struggle, he's grateful for the grassroots support.

"I appreciate it and I know there will be a lot more people who appreciate it, and rightfully so, they deserve it."

Perrigo is accepting donations towards her initiative on her Gofundme page, and can also be reached on Facebook to arrange for food bank contributions.


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