It’s become the gift that keeps on giving every year to help those who need it most at this time of the year.
Food is a basic necessity that most people are fortunate enough to not have to worry about. Unfortunately, that’s not the case for the hundreds of people who have to rely on the local food bank to feed themselves or their family. Fortunately, students from Belmont and Royal Bay secondary schools and Edward Milne Community School in Sooke have taken to the streets as part of the 10,000 Tonight Food Drive to collect non-perishable food items for local food banks.
This is about the 10th year Belmont students have been involved, said Markus Meyer, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at the school. Last year’s efforts gathered more than 17,000 items. Food collected by Belmont and Royal Bay students is donated to the Goldstream Food Bank, while items collected by EMCS students are designated for the Sooke Food Bank.
“It’s great to see the enthusiasm everyone has for this event,” said Meyer, in his fourth year of working on the 10,000 Tonight Food Drive. “It’s become quite a tradition.”
Jordyn Waller, another of the event’s organizers, said about a dozen students from leadership classes in grades 11 and 12 plan the event. Teachers and parents join the 70 or more students who go door-to-door collecting the non-perishable food items. The schools also accept items that are dropped off during regular school hours as well. “It’s great to see the whole community working together for those in need,” noted Waller, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student. This will be the second year students will accept pet food donations for the SPCA as well, she added.
Maddy Morrison, a 16-year-old Grade 11 student at Royal Bay Secondary, has been involved in the event for three years, with this year her first as an organizer. “There’s a bit of an unspoken competition between the three schools to see who can collect the most items. It’s great to see schools getting together to make a positive difference in the community. We’re all motivated by supporting such a great cause,” she said. Morrison said being on the front lines as an organizer this year has given her a different perspective about what goes into planning such an event. “There’s so much work that goes into this,” she noted. “But I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. It’s so gratifying when you see how full the truck is at the end of the night.”
Gayle Ireland, president of the Goldstream Food Bank, said all of the volunteers at the food bank are “extremely grateful” for what the students do each year. “It takes quite an effort, especially when there’s bad weather,” she said. “The thousands of items they donate each year allows us to stock the shelves and add some items to the Christmas hampers that we couldn’t normally include on our budget. The timing is perfect, especially considering the additional demand we have at this time of the year.”
The 10,000 Tonight Food Drive takes place in Langford and Colwood on Wednesday, Dec. 13 from 5 to 9 p.m. Please have items ready by the door for when the students come knocking.