There was a continuous flow of star-struck fans to the Save-On-Food Willowbrook store on Saturday, trading donations for a chance to get autographs and photos with UFC fighter and actor Jason Day, Heartland television show star Graham Wardle as well as hockey stars Theo Fleury, Dave Babich and Kirk McLean.
It was the annual Celebrity Food Drive organized by drug and alcohol intervention expert Andy Bhatti, a survivor of sexual abuse.
Among the visitors, about a dozen members of a recovery program for people fighting dugs and alcohol addiction, who lined up behind the celebrities for a group portrait.
Bhatti said the response to the initiative was up this season, though he didn’t have exact numbers.
“We’ve already filled two boxes,” Bhatti said, pointing out the truck-bed-size crates wrapped in Christmas paper at the store entrance.
“I’ve been ringing in tons of orders,” said store manager Lisa McCreadie.
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The campaign aims to provide age-appropriate gifts, a Christmas dinner and enough food to help families in need until February.
The donated funds go to Sophie’s Place Youth Advocacy Centre, which helps sexually abused children. It is part of the Centre for Child Development which provides programs throughout the region.
People can also give donations at an event in Guildford aimed at helping families dealing with addiction and sexual abuse.
Theo Fleury is taking part in the workshop called How Addiction Affects Families Part 2. that runs today, Sunday, from 3:30 to 7 p.m. at the Guildford Golf and Country Club.
Fleury has been open about his off-ice struggles with a troubled childhood, abuse and coping with emotional pain through addictive and self-destructive behaviours in his books Playing with Fire and Conversations with a Rattlesnake that encourage open sharing and provide practical tools that people seeking help can use.
Other speakers include the head of the Cedars Cobble Hill treatment centre, addiction experts, and a psychiatrist with a specialization in child, adolescent and family care.
While the Sunday seminar is free people must sign up in advance so to ensure the resource materials are prepped.
Register through andybhatti.com with the number of tickets needed.