High schoolers (From left) Katie Rufh from Royal Bay

Massive food drive Dec. 2 across the West Shore

10,000 Tonight expands into new territory, including all three SD62 high schools

What started as a Belmont legacy and has lasted over a decade has turned into a partnership between all three Sooke School District high schools.

While many West Shore residents may have heard of 10,000 Tonight, the students’ drive to collect that many non-perishable food items or more, this is the first year multiple schools are involved.

Joining Belmont organizer Claire Church are Katie Rufh and Josh Gage from Royal Bay, along with Hailey Dimock and Hope Millard from Edward Milne Community School.

“There are many people, especially around Christmas, that don’t want to speak out … They don’t have enough food,” said Church.

“It’s important to help out,” Dimock added, with Millard noting how great the local communities are at pulling together. The classmates said the food bank in Sooke has run out in the past, sometimes before Christmas.

The five students, along with their peers, are doing something to help address that need.

Next Wednesday (Dec. 2)  from 4 to 11 p.m., hundreds of students and volunteers will hit the streets of the West Shore and beyond to collect donations. Collected items stay in their communities. Royal Bay and Belmont contributing to the Goldstream Food Bank Society and Westshore Christmas Hamper Fund Society and Edward Milne collecting for Sooke residents.

“There’s going to be hundreds of people involved and hundreds more donating,” Gage said. He noted that the time of year helps add to the atmosphere, with everyone getting into the Christmas spirit by helping others. “With the new schools, it’ll be pretty exciting. I’m really looking forward to see how it will grow.”

Instead of having one centralized drive at Belmont, each of the three schools will run their own operation the night of the event, while working in partnership with the others to help maximize the night’s efforts for one giant collaboration.

“I think it’ll be a challenge still, but I think we’re up for the challenge,” said Rufh, who attended Belmont last year, when the target was more than doubled thanks to donations trickling in after the big night. She noted that “people (who) don’t have any association with the school” can also help out on Dec. 2.

Gage said public volunteers can go to any of the schools on Dec. 2 without signing up ahead of time. In past, non-school volunteers have helped with everything from shuttling students on routes to sorting and counting donations. Local businesses are even getting into the mix, offering sponsorships and treats to keep volunteers powering through the night.

Church said the Victoria Grizzlies hockey team is among those community groups that have committed to helping out. With so much community involvement, the Grade 12 students hope the initiative will branch out to eventually include all schools in the district.

katie@goldstreamgazette.com

When & Where

  • WHAT: 10,000 Tonight, the student-driven non-perishable food drive
  • WHEN: Wednesday, Dec. 2 from 4 to 11 p.m.
  • HOW: Donated items can be dropped off at any of the three SD62 high schools: Belmont, Royal Bay or Edward Milne in Sooke.

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