A local artist and a group of Cochrane firefighters have teamed up to help the Veterans Food Bank in Calgary to help local veterans.

Artist MJ Stead and firefighter Dave Levisky are heading up the efforts.  This year, the firefighter's efforts have revolved around the 3 Peaks Firefighters Stair Climb.  Levisky, Jason Hamel and Corporal Martin Reuter have climbed the four-storey tower at the Cochrane Fire Services building in an effort to try to climb the equivalent of the three tallest mountains in the world, Everest, Kangchenjunga and K2.

Levisky says the climb has been a real success.  "It's a great awareness tool.  We've been doing it since January and certainly within the firefighter's circles within Alberta they're quite aware of what we're doing. It just kind of ties back that, when we truly look at it, a lot of police, fire and EMS have lots of veterans within the service and we just wanted to support the brother and sisterhood."

The climb ends tomorrow (November 10) with the three doing additional steps for every donation received by the end of the day. 

The goal they've set is $1,500 in cash and five truckloads of food.  Levisky says their monetary goal is within sight but food donations have been slow to come in.

"We're close to $1,000 and hopefully MJ's painting will get us close to $1,500.  For food, we're actually a little slower than we were last year.  In this last week, we're trying to kick up the awareness to come on by the fire hall anytime, 24/7 and drop off food items that are non-perishable."

Stead got involved with the fundraiser last year.     

"I saw that they were raising money last year and I had just done a poppy painting and I always post my work on Facebook and I had a whole bunch of people asking about it and I thought, 'wow, I could raise a couple of hundred bucks here for the guys and they could turn it into food.'  So that's what I did, I approached Dave and said 'I'm going to auction this painting and the money will all go to you guys.  He was all over it and it worked out well."

This year, she decided to take it a step further.

"We've got it here (at the Spray Lakes Sawmill Family Sports Centre) all this week until noon on Friday.  It will then move to the Cochrane Legion branch until 2:00 pm on Remembrance Day.   I'll wait until 2:00 and then close bidding down.  The highest bidder gets it and they can pick it up at the Legion."

You can view the picture and bid on it at guest services at SLSFSC,  You can also bid on Facebook / MJS Art 

Last year, Stead raised $300 through her painting auction and is hoping to match or improve on that total this year.

Levisky says the connection between the military and firefighters is a close one.   "We have three individuals that work out of our service that were veterans.  We just have a connection to veterans issues."

Levisky says although the deadline for the fundraiser is tomorrow, they'll accept donations until the middle of the month.

 "Last year we were still receiving food to November 15th or 16th so we won't be delivering the food until mid-November so if time doesn't permit for the individual, feel free to come by after Remembrance Day and make a donation."

A GoFundMe page has been set up for donations here.

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