For families without a full table of food for the holidays, the volunteers taking to the streets on the West Shore Dec. 1 for 10,000 Tonight can be every bit as important as a visit from Santa Clause.
“The students are amazing, they do it all,” said teacher and organizer Kevin Harrington. “We go to every single house in Colwood and Langford.”
With a name that references the number of food donations they hope collect in one evening, the Belmont School initiative pairs students with a driver who are then assigned one of 75 routes.
With approximately 50 houses per route, volunteers walk door to door, one by one — rain or shine -— hoping to fill their arms with non-perishable food donations.
“Last year it was raining sideways, nasty weather, and we still came out,” Harrington said of more than 300 volunteers. “We weathered it and did a good job and got the 10,000 food items and helped those in need … This is truly something we must make sure happens every year.”
Helping it happen this year is Rachael Brown, one of the the organizers from Belmont’s leadership class who felt compelled to contribute after an inspirational experience in last year’s drive.
“In Canada 2.7 million people are food insecure and 33 per cent of that is children,” the Grade 12 student said. “Those statistics are shocking to hear … Canada is not a third world country.”
Even though she graduates from high school in June, she hopes to lend a helping hand in next year’s event because the need for volunteers is high.
“The amount of food we can collect is limitless and our goal is 10,000 but it would be great to get way more,” Brown said. “Youth are going out in the community and want to make a change.”
Making that change in her own community is important for the 17-year-old who points out all food donations go to the Goldstream Food Bank, which is right in her backyard.
“The stats awaken you,” she said.
“(We must) realize that it is a problem in Canada and a lot of people don’t see it.”
Interested volunteers can just show up at Belmont school’s north gym between 5 and 6 p.m., with or without a car. Organizers will pair you with a team and send you on your way.
Food donations can be left on your front door for a volunteer to pick up, or dropped off at the Goldstream Food Bank, 761 Station Ave.