The holidays are typically busy times for charitable groups such as food banks, with many in the community needing some extra help with putting food on the table and a host of other financial considerations. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated that situation.
Luckily, there are many resources within the community – in addition to support from residents and others who are willing to reach out and help – so those people searching for aid can receive what they need. Those resources are stretched somewhat thinner this year, prompting the community to respond in kind.
Wellesley minor hockey teams, for example, have chosen to take up the charge for a food drive on Sunday (Dec. 13).
Normally, the Twin Centre Hericanes take part in the Wellesley Christmas Parade, collecting food items from viewers lined up along the route. Of course, with the cancellation of the parade, the usual collection effort was not able to take place and another had to be created so the work could continue. This year, both organizations – the Hericanes and Stars – have joined together to run a safe collection event which will benefit the Woolwich Community Health Centre (WCHC) and Wilmot Family Resource Centre.
Claire Birrell, a parent with children on both teams, is one who has worked to ensure this food drive can continue forward, even through the pandemic. She says keeping the tradition alive this year is important as there are many people dealing with food shortages – and many more may be in need because of the pandemic.
“Just because COVID is happening doesn’t mean that everything has to stop. And there are many people that are dealing with food insecurities and COVID is not changing that, for certain – it’s probably making it a lot worse. And so, when you think about minor sports in small towns, it’s good to give back to your community whenever possible. We just thought this would be a really, really great way to give back. There are many people in the community that are very interested in donating to food banks, whether it’s items or cash donations,” said Birrell.
“[Normally the Hericanes] always collected food items during the parade, so typically just the girls, the Hericanes, would walk in the parade with shopping trolleys, and they would collect food items along the parade route, and then we would donate it to the Wellesley Food Cupboard or the local food banks. But then again, with COVID, they cancelled the parade, so we wanted to continue the tradition. We thought it would be a good idea to reach out to the boys, the Stars, to see if they would be interested in participating, just to give back to the community, and they were 100 per cent on board.”
This year the food drive will run as a porch-pickup format. Those who have donations will be asked to put them out by 11 a.m. on Sunday and the volunteers will be out in their jerseys with their families to collect the items.
Birrell says this is a safe way for people to stay in their bubbles as the volunteers will be assigned streets from which they will collect the food. Items will all then be taken to a central hub for drop-off before being divided up and taken to each community organization.
Suggested items to donate include baby care items, laundry detergent, cooking items, school lunch items, cereal, peanut butter, canned meats and the like.
Cash donations will also be accepted by e-transfer for the Wellesley Food Cupboard and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
“It’s wonderful that children see the need in the community and put that into action in our community [by] looking out for one another,” said Christa Gerber, chair of the Wellesley Food Cupboard.
Gerber says because they are a volunteer run organization and due to limited space, they are unable to safely allow people indoors to collect food during these times. Instead, they are giving out gift cards to families in need. She asks that if the community feels generous, they donate gift cards or cash to the organization so they can continue to help the less fortunate within the community.
Click here for more information on the food drive.