While the Cranbrook Food Bank serves the community year round, the Christmas season sees an annual ramping up of the work they do and the support they receive.
On Friday night, Nov. 23, at the Kootenay Ice game, the Food Bank set up shop outside the entrance. There they collected about 1,139 pounds of food and $1,382 in cash and cheques.
“That’s the type of donation that’s pretty sizeable when they collect something like that at a hockey game, so we were quite pleased with it,” said Gerry Oviatt, manager of the Food Bank.
Next, on Monday night, Nov. 26, the Kootenay Ice players went out with about half a dozen drivers from Cranbrook Dodge, going door to door around the city and collected a further 1,132 pounds of food — bringing the total to 2,271 pounds collected in a two-night period.
READ MORE: Christmas 2017 at the Cranbrook Food Bank
The money raised goes towards purchasing items that the food bank is currently short of, Oviatt explained, things like staple items such as potatoes, canned soups, juices for kids lunches, pasta and pasta sauce. All these items are needed when the time comes to put together hampers.
“And of course the food donations that we get coming in are things like what we’ve been putting on our list that we’re short of, and the same types of things, like pasta sauces and pasta and personal-care type items we like to have on hand too.
“Possibly shampoos, soaps, laundry detergents things like that that people need too. A lot of times when people are making donations they don’t think of that type of thing. We put out a list before the game to suggest things that we could use, so that’s kind of how we work that type of thing.”
The Food Bank is now ramping up for the holiday season by increasing the number of days they operate, from Monday, Wednesday and Friday, to all weekdays throughout the whole month of December.
“A lot of people bring in extra donations and that type of thing during the month of December,” Oviatt said. “That’s why we actually are going to man the office on Tuesdays and Thursdays as well through the month of December.
He added the Food Bank will be giving out hams (for single clients) and turkeys (for families) through the week ending Friday, Dec. 1.
The annual Chamber of Commerce Turkey Drive is happening again so Dec. 6 will be another major day on the Food Bank calendar. Oviatt and Jason Wheeldon will take to the airwaves, drumming up more support over the radio.
“This time of year, everybody in this community has been really good to us, supporting us and helping us to accomplish our goals, so that’s why we’re open so much in December especially,” Oviatt said. “We get people from different businesses, and different clubs around town and that type of thing to help get donations in to help us accomplish our goals for the month before Christmas.”
On Wednesday, Nov. 28, the Food Bank also helped to support a turkey dinner for seniors at the Cristoforo Colombo Lodge along with the Rotary Club and the Salvation Army. The dinner had about 500 people in attendance.
The holiday season highlights the hard work done by the Food Bank volunteers year round, and Oviatt says that this year they are off to a good start.
“I think we’re doing pretty well — we just get so much support from this area, it’s been really good to us. They realize that the economy has been struggling and we try and keep up with the needs of the community and stuff like that.”