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Kiwanians taking it to the street next weekend

For those with plenty, it’s a good time for giving, as the Elmira Kiwanis Club is prepping for its annual Christmas Goodwill food drive.

Take an inventory of the cupboards and pantries, because the group will be going  from house to house across the township to collect donations on November 18.

They will be starting 9 a.m., rain or shine, so anyone looking to sleep in is advised to set their donations out in a labelled bag or box beforehand.

“We drop flyers the week before [the food drive] in the hopes that people will leave their food on the front porch,” said John Kendall, who chairs the Kiwanis drive. “Also, they’ll know …  to leave it on the front porch so then they don’t get bothered in the morning and people can just pick it up.”

Every house along their food drive routes should receive a notice beforehand, including some of the newer subdivisions that have sprung up this year. But the Kiwanians are encouraging anyone that is missed to bring in their donations to the Woolwich Community Services food bank regardless.

With an army of volunteers of some 220 people, the club will manage to cover “virtually all of Woolwich,” said Kendall.

“It’s amazing. Everybody pulls together; it’s just a large number of groups that want to help. And some people are so keen they sign up after they were done last year, and a couple of new groups said they want to be on again next year.”

Amongst the many volunteers are the Air Cadets, the Optimist Club, the St. Jacobs Lions, church groups, book clubs, and even individual families, some of whom have participated for the past 10 to 15 years, said Kendall.

“The nice thing is it’s a broad spectrum of groups that are doing it.”

One of the key groups, he adds, is the EDSS First Robotics Club.

“They’re covering off probably four of the biggest routes. They’re covering Heidelberg and two of the big routes in Elmira, and they’re really strong supporters of the food drive, for sure.”

For the robotics club, which has around 50 members, it’s just one of the ways they like to give back.

“We as a robotics team, we wouldn’t be successful or we wouldn’t even be a team without our community supporting us,” said Julia Baxter, one of the group’s members. “So every year we like to give back to the community and this is one of the ways we do it.”

The club has been participating in the food drive for at least the past three or four years. The group will not only be picking up the foodstuffs, members will be helping with the onerous task of unloading everything that is collected over the course the day. Last year, that was about 20,000 lbs to move.

Baxter agrees that it sounds like a lot of work, but adds, “I think it’s not a lot compared to what they do for the community. Yeah, I think it’s a good cause.”

The Christmas Goodwill food drive has been a success in prior years thanks to the support of such community groups, say organizers. Last year, said Tina Reed, coordinator of community support at the  WCS, they were able to create 166 hampers for 493 people, more than half of whom were children and youths.

“Everything gets sorted into like soups and cereals, and then we see how much we have and we split it between all the boxes of all the families … it all goes,” explains Reed.

Registration for receiving a hamper began on November 1, and Reed is encouraging interested families to register in the next couple of weeks, if possible. She adds, though, that the food bank will continue to accept people into December.

“Families can call in, we just need proof of residency and income,” she says.

The sooner the better, however, because besides the food hampers, the Kiwanis Club also seeks out sponsors for every registered family. Because Christmas just wouldn’t be the same for many children without the presents, the sponsors are given a wish list, anonymously, by the family to fill.

The Kiwanians are asking people to make sure their donations are non-perishable, and to check the expiration dates. The last part is key, they say, because there simply isn’t enough manpower to check themselves.

The food drive is on November 18, but there is plenty of work to do both before and after that date. Anyone looking to volunteer or for more information are encouraged to call Kendall at 519-747-1010, ext. 209, or check the Elmira Kiwanis website, www.elmirakiwanisclub.com.

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