While the target is 10,000, the hope is for much more.
Up to 300 Belmont students will pack the school gym Dec. 3 alongside teachers and community volunteers for 10,000 Tonight, a food drive in its eighth year that has a goal to collect at least that many non-perishable items for the Goldstream Food Bank’s Christmas hampers.
“I am super excited to meet that goal and maybe get even higher than last year,” says Ravina Parmar, a Belmont student and one of the event’s organizers. “Since the school is (shifting to the new site) next year, I really want to make it a night to remember.”
Fellow organizer Amelia Jolie says speaking to the people at the food bank about the initiative hit home for her and reinforced why it was important to continue the strong tradition.
“It feels really good to know that we are making a difference,” she says. “(Sometimes) over the holidays it’s harder for people to get the food they need to put on the table, so this is a great opportunity for people to help out.”
The event is largely driven by Belmont students, who will sort, register, drive, pick up or haul the non-perishable food items to the school for tabulation, then load them onto a truck to be driven to the food bank.
Student ownership is a large part of what makes the event special, says teacher Kevin Harrington.
“I have always believed that’s the way it should be. Anything they want to organize in this community and school (they) can do it, we won’t say no – go for it,” he says. “This is the biggest (event at our school) and it’s run by a large group of students who believe in it. This is a valuable event for Belmont to be involved in.”
There is still a need for volunteers for the event, especially drivers to pick up items on designated routes around the West Shore. Pizza and drinks are provided for all volunteers and everyone is welcome to show up on the day and help out.
“It really is amazing. We have a number of staff members who, when they come, say it is the greatest event they have ever been a part of,” Harrington says.
“The energy that’s in that room and the understanding of what they’re doing for families in the community can be overwhelming.”
Starting Monday, Dec. 1, food donations will be accepted at Belmont (3067 Jacklin Rd.), Spencer middle school (1026 Goldstream Ave.) or Saunders Subaru (1784 Island Hwy.).
As of 5 p.m. on the big night, Belmont students will be knocking on doors asking for food donations and collecting goods left out for pick up.
“I love that it is driven by students, it’s not just adults. It’s a chance for future adults to know what volunteerism means, so one day when we are older and can do more, we will already have the initiative,” Jolie said.
“I’m very excited to stay there to collect and sort and see what all our work has done … It’s great to know it brings the community together. (This) means the (community) believes in us and we believe in them.”
For more information on how to donate or volunteer, email firstname.lastname@example.org