The Elmira Kiwanis Club is at it again, aiming to raise another 20,000 pounds of food for the Woolwich Food Bank through its annual food drive.Fred Karpala, co-chair of the food drive, said the charity event helps provide 85 per cent of the food donations needed for the Christmas hampers put together by Woolwich Community Services.
“For our township I think that’s a major effort and major contribution,” Karpala said.
They raised so much food last year that WCS had to give some of the donations to other food banks. But Karpala said this shouldn’t deter people from donating, it just means they’re not adding additional routes or volunteers to try to beat their record.
“We had about 200 volunteers, all kinds of groups like hockey teams and scouts and cadets and the Lions Club in St. Jacobs helped us out, the Air Cadets in Breslau,” Karpala said.
A new group joining the drive is the EDSS First Robotics team. They have about 40 members who will be making up teams to canvas four different routes.
The Kiwanis Club started the food drive in 1997 because they wanted to help replenish the food bank. The first year they used one of the Kiwanis Transit buses for a stuff-a-bus campaign. It was a very small group of just Kiwanis members and they did it over two weekends just in Elmira.
From there it expanded to all of Woolwich.
“After a number of years they were doing all of Elmira and started spreading to the towns outside,” Karpala said. “Last year we covered all of Woolwich township, all the towns and villages, including Breslau, and Maryhill, and Conestogo, St. Jacobs, the Woolwich side of Heidelberg.”
Karpala joined the Kiwanis Club in 2006 and was a canvasser for the first two years. The next year he started helping out with the organizing, putting the teams together, and publicity.
“It’s quite a big undertaking for us,” Karpala said. “We have one person in charge of volunteers and another person in charge of all the other things that need to be done like publicity and organizing, getting people to donate.”
They’re asking that anyone wishing to leave the food on their doorstep, do so before 9 a.m. because canvassers will be heading out then. Karpala said they always get a couple calls from people saying their donations weren’t picked up because people put the donations out after volunteers had already passed their house.
The top ten most needed items for the hampers are canned fruit, canned meat, canned fish, canned juices, instant oatmeal, jam, cheese whiz, sugar, shampoo/conditioner, and toilet paper.
It’s important to note that all donated items must be non-perishable, as the items won’t be given out in the hampers until mid-December.
“We’ve had pumpkins and squashes and bananas and apples, and we always say non-perishable items,” Karpala said. “It’s great that people are willing to donate something but those kinds of things aren’t going to last.”
Volunteers will be going door-to-door in all of Woolwich Township collecting food on November 22 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.