The Hillcrest Church’s Better Together Food Drive is a Halloween tradition that’s still going strong after 18 years.
Hundreds of volunteers canvassed the neighbourhoods of Moose Jaw on Tuesday night to collect non-perishable food and other donations for the Moose Jaw and District Food Bank from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m.
Donations were then brought to the Moose Jaw Exhibition grounds for several hours of sorting and packing, before being put onto pallets and loaded onto trucks. When the event first started 18 years ago, volunteers did the sorting in Hillcrest Church, but as people donated progressively more over the years, more space was needed, and they expanded.
Students from Vanier Collegiate came in the morning to help set up tables and chairs in the building and to organize the area so it would be ready before items started coming in.
As the food arrived, volunteers unloaded the bags and boxes from trucks, and put them in the centre for sorters. Around the perimeter were tables where like items were grouped, boxed, and put on pallets.
Between the setup, collecting, and sorting, there were over 400 volunteers. Prairie Hockey Academy alone brought around 100 players to help.
The food bank will know the total weight of food collected later in the week.
Karen McNaughton, organizer with the food drive, said it was a great night. “We have found Moose Jaw to be the most generous city. Everybody wants to give to the food bank, and this just turns out to be a fantastic night every year. I'm always amazed by the generosity of Moose Javians towards their food bank and towards this evening.”
Client needs at the food bank have increased by 39 per cent over last year, so the show of support from Moose Jaw is appreciated. “I know we're helping approximately 700 households per month. That also equals to about 1800 plus people - of that almost half is school age children,” said Deann Little, development and warehouse manager with the Moose Jaw and District Food Bank.
“You may not know who you're helping, but in turn it goes to help someone in our community. So I get super excited about that and almost emotional at times, because that's huge," said Little.
Little thanks everyone for their team efforts. “I would love to thank our community on behalf of the food bank, the board and the staff for each and every volunteer that makes this event possible, for Hillcrest Church, for putting it on after all these 18 years and also for the generosity of our community that continues to give to us, we can't thank you enough.”
If you are interested in donating to the Moose Jaw and District Food Bank, items can be dropped off from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday or cheques can be mailed to 270 Fairford St W, or you can donate online by clicking here.