When Anna Cannon was 17 years old, she was in a situation she never thought she’d be in.
Cannon just left an abusive relationship and had given birth to her first child. Being in that type of relationship, Cannon was ready for freedom and began going to bars — a situation which quickly turned into a six-year-struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.
“I was a single mom when I was 17, I never had that opportunity to go out with my friends at 19. When I finally left that partner, I ended up in a spot where I was irresponsible,” she said.
Cannon started using drugs once in a while — mostly experimenting with crack cocaine — which quickly spiralled into drug use on a daily basis.
Along the way, Cannon continued to look for ways to feed her addiction. Living at home, she would cash her mother’s cheques and use the money to buy drugs.
It wasn’t until Christmas Day in 2010, when Cannon realized she had hit rock bottom. She stole $5,000 from her mother’s bank account. Right away, she went home and confessed what she had done to her parents.
“I was in rock bottom, my life was in shambles. It was awful,” Cannon said. “I wanted my family and that life back, where people were proud of me and happy, where I wasn’t lying and manipulating and doing nasty things.”
Shortly after she got help, receiving treatment at Pacifica Treatment Centre in Vancouver. Her daughter, who was eight years old at the time, visited her at the centre and was a big part in Cannon’s recovery.
Now Cannon is happily living on her own in Victoria. While she has overcome a number of obstacles in her life, soaring rent and food prices are creating new challenges for the now 35-year-old. Occasionally, she needs help feeding her daughter and eight-year-old step-son, during which time she turns to the Mustard Seed Food Bank for assistance.
“Prices are so high that I’m not really left with an option but to get help from outside services,” she said, adding she only comes to get the hampers when she’s in desperate need.
“The food prices in the past few years have gone up at least 10 to 15 per cent on the shelves . . . (The Mustard Seed) means everything to me.”
Last week, Cannon was one of 300 families who received a fresh food Christmas hamper as part of the Tonne of Love campaign.
The campaign, organized by Odd Fellows (lodge 2), an organization that promotes personal and social development, in partnership with Country Grocer, raised close to $20,000 to donate 13,000 pounds of fresh food, such as cheese, eggs, ham, fruit and vegetables, for the hampers.
It’s a campaign Odd Fellows’ Jason Sikora has been involved with since it started seven years ago.
“We’re more focused on that fresh holiday meal for the family, rather than how much food can we donate,” he said.
“The feeling is more just seeing the volunteers at the Mustard Seed and how happy they are that they have fresh food to give out in the hampers. It really is about that local support and love. That’s the good feeling we get.”
Brent Palmer, director of stakeholder engagement with the Mustard Seed, said it’s a huge act of kindness that allows recipients to sit down with their families and enjoy a healthy Christmas dinner.