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Pelham Cares Christmas food drive kicks off Friday

Three-day event critical to replenishing food bank shelves
Bronwyn Cunningham, Beth Cotter, and Greg Lewis of Pelham Cares with some of the food items eagerly sought as part of the three-day Christmas food drive, which starts on Friday.

Pelham Cares is launching its biggest annual food drive of the year on Friday, a three-day campaign to restock their shelves for the holiday season.

President Greg Lewis said that the public can drop off non-perishable food items at the south entrance of the Meridian Community Centre (MCC) from 9 AM to 4:30 PM on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. A team of 30 to 40 volunteers will be on hand in shifts to help unload and sort the contributions, before transporting boxes of food to the Pelham Cares office and storage facility on Highway 20.

“In addition to food items, we gratefully receive gift cards and monetary donations, and can issue tax receipts for anything over $10,” said Lewis. “We get the majority of our donations from the public, but also have great relationships with some of our retailers like Food Basics through the Metro organization. They have a program called ‘One More Bite’, that allows us to get a lot of food items that are close to their ‘best before’ date, which are still perfectly good. We also get goods including clothing from Giant Tiger.”

Products in great demand include cleaning supplies, feminine hygiene products, coffee and tea, coffee creamer, canned fruit and vegetables (especially beans), canned meats, boxed potatoes, mayonnaise and cooking oil, spaghetti sauce, and rice. Fresh produce is also sought, and Pelham Cares now stocks frozen food as well.

“We encourage our clients to do more home cooking, and rely less on only processed foods,” said Lewis. “Local farmers provide us with a lot of in-season fresh produce, and we provide our clients with recipes. It’s really making a difference in their lives, allowing them to learn to enjoy cooking, rather than simply opening a can. We have a responsibility to provide a quality nutritional element to what we offer.”

"We have a responsibility to provide a quality nutritional element to what we offer"

Lewis said that the need continues to increase, as more and more families experience food insecurity.

“The number of mouths we're feeding this year as of October is up 60 percent from last year,” he said, and new clients to the food bank are up 190 percent.”

Last year’s Christmas food drive brought in approximately 12,000 pounds of goods, but Lewis said that they don’t have a formal target this year.

“Our target is to simply get as much as we can,” he said. “We recognize that, just as the challenging economic times are having an impact on our clients, it also is affecting our donors’ ability to give. We also have a number of food drives in local schools that get the students involved, which is great. They’re contributing to the community, and gaining an appreciation of the challenges that some of their fellow students face in terms of hunger and food scarcity.”

Pelham Cares had its biggest fundraising event of the year in September, Diamonds and Denim, at Amici’s Banquet and Conference Centre on Merrittville Highway. It was an excellent turnout, said Lewis, which raised about $17,000 through ticket and raffle sales.

“The demand for food has never been higher,” underscored Lewis, “and every single donation helps.”

Questions about donations can be addressed to Pelham Cares at 905-892-5300, or via email at  [email protected].


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Don Rickers

About the Author: Don Rickers

A life-long Niagara resident, Don Rickers worked for 35 years in university and private school education. He segued into journalism in his retirement with the Voice of Pelham, and now PelhamToday
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