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Community "criminals" locked up for charity

Notorious troublemakers from around Okotoks were thrown behind bars this weekend. The fourth annual Jail and Bail for the Okotoks Food Bank took place on May 12 at the Foothills Centennial Centre.
Jail n Bail Oliver Hallmark
Okotoks hairstylist Oliver Hallmark was doing hard time at the Okotoks Marketsquare in the Foothills Centennial Centre on May 12 to raise money for the Okotoks Food Bank.

Notorious troublemakers from around Okotoks were thrown behind bars this weekend. The fourth annual Jail and Bail for the Okotoks Food Bank took place on May 12 at the Foothills Centennial Centre. The event has raised $18,750 to-date, and donations are open until May 19. Hairstylist Oliver Hallmark, from Blunt Hair Studio, happily hung out in jail for the day to raise money for the food bank. His crime? Eating co-workers’ food from the break room. Clad in black and white stripes, he hit up visitors of the Mother’s Day market and contacted clients to raise his bail, which was set at $2,200. Hallmark said he was nervous to participate in the event when he was first asked back in March. “I didn’t know if I wanted to do it because I think it’s almost presumptuous thinking people will actually bail you out,” he said. “I was quite worried at first, I wasn’t too sure. But I thought it might be fun to get together with some of the other people who were going to be there and do some networking.” At the time, he didn’t know how much his bail would be. Hallmark started a campaign at work, donating $10 from each hair service through the month of April to the cause. By the end of the month, he had done 148 services, raising $1,480 himself. “I can’t ask my clients and I can’t ask my friends to give if I’m not willing to give,” said Hallmark. Some clients found out what he was doing and asked if they could give a little extra when they were at the salon. By the time May 12 rolled around, Hallmark had already raised close to $3,000 cash and nearly $1,000 in online donations – well over his bail amount. But he still donned the prison attire and got locked up for the day. “I committed to it anyway and I’d taken the day off work, so I thought why not see what I can do?” said Hallmark. “I told Sheila (Hughes, food bank executive director) if I hit my goal I’d keep it quiet and keep going.” He didn’t know what to expect, and thought maybe he’d bring in an additional $800. But the public had other ideas. By the end of the day, his total was $5,770. “I think people in this town, there’s a spirit of giving and sometimes they don’t really know how, so something like this it’s easy to say, ‘Here’s $10 or $20,’” said Hallmark. “It was fun. I had a lot of fun doing it. I live for these things.” Sheila Hughes called Hallmark a “generous soul,” and said he was one of 10 community criminals who made the five hours in jail the success it was. Even though there were fewer people jailed than previous years, she said overall it was a great event. “What I loved was everyone had a great sense of humour up there,” said Hughes. “They had so much fun, they interacted with people walking by, they worked really hard. They’re the heavy lifters – they do an incredible amount of work to raise those funds.” Though $18,750 sounds like a lot of money, Hughes said it’s still shadowed by expenses at the food bank, where $90,000 was spent on food costs alone in 2017. However, the Jail and Bail fundraiser is still very valuable and will help with costs for summer programs being implemented this year, she said. One of the main programs is called After the Bell, which is a national campaign through Food Banks Canada to address child hunger. “When they aren’t going to school and aren’t in the lunch programs, what do they do?” said Hughes. “We’re going to be providing lunch packs and some fresh food for children those eight weeks over the summer, and this will help with that.” To make an online donation to the Jail and Bail event, visit www.canadahelps.org and search for 2018 Jail and Bail Okotoks Food Bank.


Krista Conrad

About the Author: Krista Conrad

Krista Conrad is the news reporter for Okotokstoday.ca and the Western Wheel newspaper covering Okotoks and Foothills County. For story tips contact kconrad@okotoks.greatwest.ca
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