Philanthropy in Ottawa: Local lawyers raise the bar for the Ottawa Food Bank

Andrew McKenna
Andrew McKenna is a partner at Gowling WLG – one of the local law firms that participated in the 2021 Firms Fill Fridges fundraising campaign in support of the Ottawa Food Bank. (Photo by Mark Holleron)
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Who: Several Ottawa law firms and the County of Carleton Law Association

The donation: $98,000

The recipient: The Ottawa Food Bank

The inspiration: “The need in Ottawa has never been greater. Although the event has been running for a few years, all of us in the law community knew this year it was imperative that we step up and fill as many fridges as we could for Ottawa families.” – Andrew McKenna, partner, Gowling WLG

Thirty-four law firms in Ottawa participated in a friendly competition in support of the Ottawa Food Bank during an annual charity event organized by the County of Carleton Law Association, raising a record-breaking $98,000.  

The pandemic has restricted in-person donations at the Ottawa Courthouse, but this did not stop Ottawa lawyers from raising crucial funds. The peer-to-peer event, dubbed Firms Fill Fridges, focused its efforts online. The donations flooded in to support the issue of food security in the capital during the month of March. Each lawyer set up their own personal page to encourage donors to give generously. 

The winning law firm, Gowling WLG, raised $12,214 through its fundraising efforts.  

“We have all heard the news that the demand for the Ottawa Food Bank has increased. The reality is the legal community is in a fortunate position, and many of us feel it is our responsibility to give back to those that have been impacted during this challenging time in our history,” says Gowling WLG partner Andrew McKenna.

Soloway Wright LLP, Borden Ladner Gervais LLP, Kelly Santini LLP and Arbique & Ahde were among the other law firms topping the leaderboard. 

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The goal for the month-long fundraising campaign – now in its sixth year – was set at $40,000. The teams hit that donation target in only 10 days, so organizers raised the bar to $80,000 and ended the campaign at 122 per cent of their goal. 

The Ottawa Food Bank provides fresh and non-perishable food, as well as items such as diapers, toiletries and cleaning supplies to its network of more than 100 emergency food programs in the city.

For every dollar raised through events such as Firms Fill Fridges, the Ottawa Food Bank leverages its buying power and turns one dollar into five dollars’ worth of food for the community. During COVID-19, the Ottawa Food Bank has witnessed a 326 per cent increase in volume of calls from people in need of food.

Philanthropy in Ottawa is a monthly feature highlighting notable donations in Ottawa. Share your stories of philanthropy in our community with news@obj.ca. And be sure to read the latest edition of OBJ’s Giving Guide: