The Kamloops Food Bank wants residents to give some hope as the holiday season ends.
A fundraising initiative launched by the non-profit plays on the idea of love locks and will become a prominent public art installation in Riverside Park next summer.
The food bank is selling 10,000 locks for $20 each and is asking residents to personalize them before clasping them onto a steel five-foot-high structure spelling out the word “HOPE.”
That installation will be handed over to the city and is intended to become a landmark in Riverside Park.
“Hope means something different to everybody and everybody has their own story, so it’s a really powerful opportunity to be involved in a public art installation in a meaningful way,” Kamloops Food Bank executive director Bernadette Siracky said, noting the word is also included in the non-profit’s mandate.
The idea was borne out of casual conversation about love locks, which are displayed around the world as public demonstrations of affection.
It eventually grew into a multi-partner fundraiser that includes businesses (which are providing materials and services at cost) and the City of Kamloops (which is providing park space and will eventually take over the artwork).
Home Hardware is providing heavy-duty weather-proof Master locks at cost. Siracky said residents can transform the locks into miniature pieces of artwork themselves: engraving them, affixing to them tags, writing on them with permanent marker or painting them with nail polish.
She also encouraged honouring a marriage, anniversary, pet or deceased love one.
“There’s so many ways to individualize this and make it personal,” Siracky said.
The structure will be installed later this year on a concrete foundation to ensure structural integrity.
Those who purchase a hope lock will be invited to an unveiling event on June 6, at which time they can clasp their locks to the structure.
People can also do it on their own schedule any time after June 6.
While Siracky said people will likely add their own locks to the structure, she said if all 10,000 locks are sold, $100,000 will go toward supporting ongoing services at the food bank.
The non-profit feeds more than 7,000 people each year and supplies food to 59 agencies to make meals and provides other food services in the region.
Its food-recovery program, Food Share, picks up perishable foods on the way out at grocery stores to give to those in need.
It now collects from every grocery store in Kamloops, including meat from Costco. Siracky said it took the agency a decade to get to that point and it has led to quadrupling of the perishable food collected.
Food bank clients can pick up produce and meat once a week, on top of staple goods that are available once a month. The agency redirects $6 million worth of perishable food annually away from the landfill and into hungry stomachs.
That program, however, costs about $300,000 to operate, Siracky said, due to the need for trucks, staff and refrigeration.
“In order for us to serve all those folks, we need money to do that,” Siracky said.
So far, Locking-In Hope has raised just shy of $9,000 — meaning it has reached about nine per cent of its fundraising goal. A dentist recently purchased 250 to give to clients during the holidays and Siracky is encouraging others to lock in their contribution.
To purchase a lock, go online to lockinginhope.com. Locks will be picked up from the food bank, which is located at 171 Wilson St. in North Kamloops.
Tax receipts will be provided for the donation.
The non-profit is also seeking sponsors, with the top $5,000 package including 100 locks and a business logo permanently displayed on the art installation.