Saturday November 27, 2010

Community News

Food Bank Shelves Nearly Empty

Donations down as demand grows at Salvation Army

Staff/Voice file photo


an Pratt, Community Ministries Director at the Chilliwack Salvation Army (SA), said the need for food is up by 20 per cent and the shelves are bare. That's not a good sign at Christmas the help agency hands out hundreds of food hampers to low income people throughout the city which places a larger than usual demand on their resources.

                                               Kettle Volunteer collects donations last year. Voice file

"I've only been here 6-weeks, so I'm learning a lot as we go but we're always looking for volunteers in different areas," he told the Voice in a telephone interview.

"Last year we did over 8,000 hampers and for Christmas alone we did 1500 last year and this year we're anticipating 1700 hampers and that's just to hand out at Christmas to families who are struggling," said Pratt.                                           

Pratt says the community always responds well to their calls for food donations and that police, fire, churches and individuals all chip in. To ensure they give out quality hampers Pratt says they have to spend their own money.

"We buy all the extra stuff for the hampers so we get quality product and this last year we spent over $100,000 on food during the Christmas campaign.

One of their biggest fundraisers is the annual Christmas kettle campaign.

"The money comes from donations and we rely on the grace of God, and the kettle campaign," he said. "We use what we need for the Christmas campaign and most of what's left is used for the needy."

According to Pratt, this year more Chilliwack families and individuals than ever are scrambling to make ends meet.

"The need is up 20 per cent," said Pratt adding that even local TV broadcasting company Shaw Cable held a food drive.

"Shaw (Cable) did an awesome drive and the schools and the firemen and everybody else do a great job over Christmas, but at the moment are shelves are pretty bare."

"We just want to thank Chilliwack for being such a great community in supporting us in the way that they do please give me a call, come on down and we can find some stuff for them to do," he said with a laugh.

A lot of the food they take in are damaged tins and out-of-date tins, so that needs to be individually inspected and sorted at their distribution centre at 46420 Brooks Ave. where the food is taken in, sorted and then brought over to the Care and Share at 45746 Yale Rd. where hampers are made up.

Once a year, Christmas Hampers are available to anyone in need. Applications for this service are available in November. Christmas Hampers include fresh vegetables, milk, a turkey voucher, and enough food for a full Christmas dinner for the whole family. They also include toys for everyone in the family through a partnership with Chilliwack Community Services.

There is also the popular SA Adopt-a-Family program which provides individuals and businesses with the opportunity to sponsor a client family’s Christmas hamper, including gifts specific to the members in that family.

Applications for Christmas Hampers are available until Dec. 15 at 45746 Yale Rd. (next to the Paramount). Bring photo ID, birth certificate, medical card, rent confirmation and proof of income. Hours are Monday to Saturday, 10am to 12 noon and 1pm to 3pm.

For more information call 604-792-0001 or e-mail here.

Kettles will be open until noon on Christmas Eve, except Sunday. There are also have an Online Christmas Kettle option at our website for those who wish to make a credit card donation. To start your own Salvation Army Christmas Kettle online visit: 

Christmas Kettle Campaign locations:

1. Canadian Tire

2. Chilliwack Mall

3. Cottonwood Mall

4. Downtown Safeway

5. Salish Plaza Liquor Store

6. Safeway Mall

7. Sardis Liquor Store

8. PriceSmart

9. Coopers Foods

10. Save-On-Foods Vedder

11. Superstore

12. Shoppers Drug Mart- Chilliwack

13. Shoppers Drug - Vedder

14. Agassiz



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