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Kiwanis food drive pulls in its biggest haul ever, helping to fill WCS Christmas hampers

Kiwanis food drive pulls in its biggest haul ever, helping to fill WCS Christmas hampers
Kelly Christie from Woolwich Community Services (middle) and some staff from the Elmira Food Basics show off just some of the many donation cards filled out by customers giving $5 to the local food bank. The effort raised $4,905 for the local charitable organization
Kelly Christie from Woolwich Community Services (middle) and some staff from the Elmira Food Basics show off just some of the many donation cards filled out by customers giving $5 to the local food bank. The effort raised $4,905 for the local charitable organization. [Liz Bevan / The Observer]
The Kiwanis Club of Elmira has collected more food donations than ever in this year’s Christmas season food drive.

John Kendall, a member of the local organization, said they don’t have an exact total for the weight or number of items collected, but the donations filled the basement of Woolwich Community Services (WCS).

“We used to weigh how much we would collect, but I would say that it was north of 20,000 pounds. It is tough to estimate,” he said. “It is amazing. It is definitely the most we have ever collected. Year after year, it seems to increase.”

WCS’ Kelly Christie says the food will be used in the Christmas hampers distributed to area families in need.

“(The drive) provides 90 per cent of the food for the food hampers. It was a crazy amount of food,” she said, adding that leftover items get put on food bank shelves. “We are aiming for 160 hampers or more if people need them. Our community always steps up. If there is too much, like we have 27 cans of something, then we will box it up to the food bank. That is the beauty of our agency, we run so many programs that nothing goes to waste.”

Kendall credits preplanning and the horde of volunteers from hockey teams, groups from the high school, families and more for the success of the drive, which collected non-perishable food items all over the township.

“There was about 247 volunteers and I would say approximately 600 hours put in, in total,” he shared. “The volunteers, what is amazing about them is they are very happy to do it because it is a great cause. It takes a lot of organization.”

Kendall wants to thank those in the community who donated, and stressed the importance of working as a team to get the job done, supporting the less fortunate.

“Unfortunately, there is a need out there and WCS is an amazing organization with taking care of that,” he said, adding that Kiwanis also taps into other community groups to pitch in. “This is just a small part that we can play in assisting. We are a relatively small club with only 30-odd members. It is a great opportunity to assist other organizations with getting involved with WCS. It is a lot of fun for those who participate in it.”

Food Basics in Elmira is also part of the push to help those who need an extra hand. Teaming up with WCS, the grocery store on Arthur Street has been asking customers to donate $5 while buying their groceries to go towards the perishable items the WCS food bank and hamper program might need. The effort raised $4,905 for the community group.

“Food Basics was doing a bag of food, so people could buy that (for us), but it was products we get a lot of. You can only give out so much of that stuff,” she said. “Now, I have an account here (with the $4,905), so year round, we can use it to buy milk, eggs, and margarine for the hampers. We can use this at the food bank too. It is very cool. Now we have cash instead of a lot of pasta. I am really happy the community stepped up and thinks it is a good idea. When we need a product, that $5 goes a long way.”

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