The sagging back tires of the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department truck gave it away as it pulled a trailer up the storage facility of the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank Monday.
“It was a really good night,” said Mike Harman, deputy fire chief, as he greeted Tyson Elder of the food bank outside the storage facility.
Rick Toogood, who coordinated the Peninsula Firefighters Food Drive for Sidney, then joined Elder, Harman and additional department volunteers to unload 300 boxes (or six pallets) of donated food.
Sidney firefighters also collected $19,107.25 – more than $4,000 over their stated goal of $15,000 in honour of the department’s 15th year of participation in the food drive.
“Clearly, everybody showed up and supported the food drive,” said Toogood.
Based on past experiences, this figure translates into $57,321.75 of food purchasing power, he said.
Firefighters in North Saanich and Central Saanich also collected food and cash on Saturday. Residents could also drop off items before the actual collection day at locations around the respective communities.
“As per usual, the residents of North Saanich continue to show their generosity, making this year’s drive a huge success,” said Brian Thomas of the North Saanich Fire Department. “Although our cash contributions were down a bit, understandable given the pinch we are all feeling, we collected $5,900, but actual food donations far surpassed last year’s record-setting collection.”
While the department collected 12,000 pounds of food, this year’s drive collected 18,000 pounds, said Thomas. “Firefighters and their families were all throughout Dean Park and the Eaglehurst area this past Saturday,” he said. “I can’t tell you how much it impresses me to see all of the Peninsula firefighters, who already give so much of their time, continue to give to the community in supporting such a worthwhile cause.”
In Central Saanich, crews collected over 6.5 pallets along with $5,300 in donations while going through the neighbourhood of Tanner Ridge and Saanichton, said John Inoke. “Big thanks to all donations and families who helped out,” he said. “Also big thanks to the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank for all that they continue to do as well.”
Saturday’s food drive comes as demand for food banks has surged in recent months thanks to inflation and other factors.
One measure of this demand is the food bank’s annual Christmas hamper. While it distributed 300 last year, organizers expect to distribute around 400, an increase of 25 per cent.
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