Led by Kiwanis Club, volunteers will make rounds across Woolwich
Walk down any street in Elmira and you see a fortunate community. And yet, the Ontario Association of Food Banks recently reported that rural Ontario childhood hunger is at an all-time high, with some 14,000 rural children regularly using hunger relief programs. In Woolwich Township, where Woolwich Community Services has also noted an increase, it is the problem that hides in plain sight.
“It’s amazing how much [hunger] there is considering how supposedly prosperous we are,” said Kiwanis Club of Elmira member Fred Karpala, who is preparing for the service club’s annual Woolwich Christmas goodwill door-to-door food drive.“There are people that are in need,” he continued. “They’re not as well off as you may be, and it’s something that you can do. We don’t ask people how much they give – whatever they give is great.”
The annual initiative sees the Kiwanis Club joined by nearly 200 volunteers (including the Breslau Air Cadets, the Elmira Scouts, and several minor hockey teams) to collect non-perishable food items. Between 9 a.m. and noon on November 23, the volunteers will knock on every door from Floradale to Breslau in support of Woolwich Community Services’ Christmas Goodwill program, which distributes food hampers for those in need during the holidays.
The cause looks to be especially urgent this year, Karpala says.
“Last year there were 149 hampers put together involving 475 adults and children. Well, this year they’ve estimated at WCS that, as of today, they’re going to be doing 155 hampers involving over 500 adults and children. So it’s gone up since last year, and there’s still a month to go.”
The food drive has grown in scope since its beginnings in 1997 as the Stuff-a-Bus campaign. At one time limited to Elmira, with the Kiwanis Club handling all collecting duties, it has since expanded to become one of the township’s most important charitable initiatives.
“The Kiwanis Club only has 34 members, so we couldn’t possibly do it ourselves, but the community is really great in helping out,” said Karpala.
“When I’m at the drop-off areas and these teams come back, and they’re all excited because they’ve collected all this food, and it’s piles and piles of it. … At the end of the morning, it’s like a big mountain of food, and it really makes you feel good.”
Dependably, Kiwanis can expect generous contributions from Woolwich’s residents – even those who may themselves be in need.
“You don’t see the people that are in need that much, because everybody seems to be giving,” said Karpala. “A lot of times, the people that look like they may be in need themselves are the ones that give the most.”