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Elmira youths CAN-ing up some good deeds for Halloween again this year

Elmira high school students will be hitting up every house in town on Halloween night, but they won’t be asking for candy and they won’t be TP-ing any houses.

Youth from Woodside Bible Fellowship will be collecting non-perishables for the annual Citizens Always Need Supper (CANS) food drive.

All donations will go to the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.

Now in its twelfth year, organizer Jaron Bowman’s goal is to gather 4,000 pounds of food.

Last year there were 40 to 50 kids out collecting, despite less than ideal conditions.

“It went fairly well. Not as many people showed up as years in the past. The weather was pretty bad, which was a factor. It still was very successful, I think over 3,000 pounds,” Bowman said.

The 4,000-pound goal is based off how much they gathered his first year organizing it two years ago, which was more than 4,000 pounds.

They cover nearly every house in Elmira. He’s expecting 60 high school students to participate this year. They’ll be out from 6:15 p.m. to around 9 p.m. or when people start turning off their lights.

And there’s been one slight change of plans this year.

“There was a facility conflict with the church and we weren’t able to run it here this year. So we’ve arranged to run it at the St. Teresa of Avila Church,” Bowman said.

Mondays are one of the busiest nights at Woodside, so they’re grateful to have another venue where they can drop off and sort the food.

“We’re very thankful. It would have been awful if we couldn’t continue this year,” Bowman said.

The event takes a lot of work to organize. Bowman’s been busy confirming the location, organizing people to help pack the food at the church, and organizing people to be drivers for the night to go around and collect people’s food. There also will be a guest speaker before and after they collect food giving a talk to the youth.

The food bank will be picking up the food from the church the next day.

“Especially this year we’re trying to really advertise it as a community event. It’s run by people from Woodside, but we had people from Wallenstein out and it doesn’t even have to be people from church, just anybody, the youth from Elmira,” Bowman said.

There’s still room for more high school students to get involved.

He says Elmira residents have been receptive to the idea over the years and they usually have something ready to donate. He encourages people to set aside a couple items ahead of Halloween.

“They may not feel like it’ll make that much of a difference if they give a few cans or if they don’t, but if everybody gave even one or two cans that would be a lot of food,” Bowman said.

This is Bowman’s third year running the event and it’s important for him to see it continue.

“It’s awesome to see all the youth just working together for the greater good and for a purpose. This is one of the food bank’s biggest food drives around this  time of year. It’s really special to be a part of it.”

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