TORONTO — The WWE kicked off a partnership with the Daily Bread Food Bank Wednesday with an appearance by superstars Edge, Natalya and legend Rocky Johnson at their headquarters in Toronto’s west end. The trio were welcomed by Daily Bread executive director Gail Nyberg and, after a photo-op, rolled up their sleeves and joined volunteers packing and sorting donations into their appropriate food bins.

The plan is to help the food bank raise awareness and reach its goal of $500,000 or 500,000 pounds of food by January 2, 2009.

Edge sorts food at the Daily Bread Food Bank. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

“It’s wonderful to have Edge, Rocky Johnson and Natalya here to kick off their drive at the Air Canada Centre on December 22,” said Nyberg to SLAM! Wrestling. “They have a whole fan base that we’re maybe not real well-known to, so it gives us a great opportunity to get our message out that 900,000 people a year have to use food banks and 34% of them are children.

“The food that we take in right now during this drive are the kinds of food that people are going to eat, not just at Christmas but going into January, February and March so it’s very important to us.”

The trio seemed to enjoy themselves, where it was sorting food, mingling with volunteers and media, or taking in the surroundings of the food bank. Noticeable on Johnson — the father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson — while he was sorting was his WWE Hall of Fame ring, which he let the media examine further afterwards.

“Coming here and doing this for the food bank is amazing because really we’re encouraging feedback from the community and leading by example,” Natalya said. “When I’m not busy, I’m kind of like ‘I don’t know what to do with myself.’ That’s why coming to the food bank and doing stuff here, whether I’m in the United States, Europe, or Canada especially — I love coming back to Canada, it’s my home — is amazing. It’s very rewarding.

“Being able to come back here and work with various charities like the food bank today is great. We have something huge, a supershow on December 22 at the Air Canada Centre. What we’re asking, since we give to the community, leading by example, is our WWE fans to give back as well and if everybody can bring at least one non-perishable food item each to the show. We have a list of things that are priority items. So I think this will be a huge step and our fans have never let us down.”

Natalya, Rocky Johnson and Edge listen to Gail Nyberg, executive director of the Daily Bread Food Bank. Photo by Mike Mastrandrea

Most needed items for the Daily Bread Food Bank — and any food bank — are peanut butter, rice, baby formula and food, lentils, canned fruit or vegetables, cans of stew or hearty soup, canned fish or meat, powdered, canned or tetra pak milk, dried pasta and tomato sauce, cans of beans, macaroni and cheese.

The wiley R-rated Superstar Edge (mostly clean-shaven), who recently returned to Smackdown, mentioned he is working his way back to full wrestling fitness. “I’ve got to get back to feeling abnormal, because I feel too normal right now,” he referred half-jokingly to his hips after the sorting. “There’s a transition period. Usually after some time off it takes about two to three weeks to where you take a turnbuckle and your hips don’t feel like they’ve been shattered. It’s not good for the body. And when you don’t do it for a while, you really realize that. But it’s getting there.”

Finally, it was appropriate to learn that the aura of wrestling also extends to the Daily Bread Food Bank executive director’s household. “My sons, who are all young adults are going to be impressed because I’ve been on CTV, I’ve been on Global. But now I’m on The Fight Network and I’m being interviewed by SLAM! Wrestling. So now I have made it,” Nyberg said with a laugh.