The Wishbone Project contributes to Prince Albert seniors hamper initiative

The Heart of Seniors Gathering has been preparing hampers for isolated seniors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the hampers include personal hygiene items such as dish soap, laundry detergent and toothpaste. (Facebook Photo)

Canadian turkey farmers and processors are donating to a hamper program in Prince Albert through a recently launched initiative called The Wishbone Project.

In April, John Fryters and his wife Hannelore of The Heart of Seniors Gathering decided to help seniors in the downtown core by distributing hampers once a month.

Seniors are having to isolate in their homes due to COVID-19, according to Fryters, making it difficult for some to get essential items.

The first run included food such as canned goods, carrots and potatoes, followed by personal hygiene supplies like hand soap and toothpaste.

“Some of them are very lonely and particularly since COVID-19, they’re even more isolated,” said Fryters.

“It’s kind of a double whammy, so we’re trying to concentrate on those people.”

The number of hampers being distributed has grown from 30 to 50.

Now, the couple is expecting a $1,075 boost after the Saskatchewan division of the Turkey Farmers of Canada contacted them, wanting to offer their support.

“When it comes to turkey, the wishbone is often an afterthought,” said the organization when launching The Wishbone Project. “Well, right now, we want to make it top of mind.”

According to the announcement, the project isn’t just about monetary donations, but about helping charitable organizations at local, provincial and national levels.

“We’re also empowering community heroes, like local chefs who are tackling food insecurity. And we want to support groups that empower those who are vulnerable or at risk.”

Turkey Farmers of Canada first donated $50,000 to Kids Help Phone “to ensure young people don’t feel alone during this time.” An additional $25,000 was allocated to chef partners across the country.

“I was saying to my wife ‘Maybe we should buy some turkey products, particularly turkey products that come from Canada,’” said Fryters about how they’re going to use the money for the hampers.

“I think it would be kind of a nice gesture.”

He said since starting the hamper program, a number of individuals or groups have shown support, whether that’s financially or through material items. One person donated all of the eggs, for example, and a church contributed $1,500.

John and Hannelore anticipate they’ll continue distributing hampers for the next five or six months.

The hamper program was launched with funds from the federal Horizons for Seniors Grant, and a $20,000 donation from Second Harvest has kept the initiative going.