Salvation Army volunteers Brandon McKay (left) and Robbie Walkus (right) sort crates of food passed down the line from high school students that was gathered during the 2015 10

Penticton food bank needs community to step up

Students will be out collecting for the food bank with the annual 10,000 Tonight event on Wednesday (Nov. 30)

Students will be out collecting for the food bank with the annual 10,000 Tonight event on Wednesday (Nov. 30).

The goal of this annual event is to collect 10,000 non-perishable food items to fill the food banks for those in need.

A paper bag was delivered to all homes in the Penticton Western News last week and members of the community are invited to fill it with non-perishable goods and leave it on their doorsteps for students to pick up today (Nov. 30) between 5 and 9 p.m.

“We are so thankful for the amazing community involvement that happens every year and we are certain that we will have another successful night,” said student organizer Victoria Ritchie.

Read more: 10,000 Tonight surpasses 2015 goal for food bank

This year KVR Middle School, Skaha Lake Middle School, Penticton Secondary School and Princess Margaret Secondary School will take part. There will be two host locations, Penticton Secondary School and Skaha Lake Middle School.

“Although it is primarily a student event, we encourage everyone in the community to take part by donating non-perishable food items,” said Ritchie.

Read more: Video: Ritchie is giving youth a voice

Major Miriam Leslie, Penticton Salvation Army pastor, said they serve about 1,200 hampers regularly and growing.

“We figure on average we have five new clients a day, which is tough to sustain when you are a small community food bank,” said Leslie.

The Penticton Salvation Army has also extended their help to the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Cawston. Their program, that serves about 100 hampers to mostly older adults, was going to dissolve if they hadn’t stepped in to partner with them. It has left the shelves at the Penticton food bank running low on some items.

“The Christmas spirit is beginning to show, especially with the paper bags coming out in the paper and it being close to December we are starting to see a rise in donations. It is something we are grateful for because up until a couple weeks ago it was scary,” said Leslie.

While last year there was an increase in seniors who weren’t making ends meet and needed the food bank service, this year they are seeing people who are struggling because they can only find part-time work. Leslie said there are also people working but don’t have benefits or appear to have a decent income but have amassed a large amount of debt that has left them struggling.

“This is our busiest time of year and our greatest fundraising push. Apart from food, the thing we need most is people to volunteer with our kettle campaign. That money directly funds the food bank,” said Leslie.

Items that are needed to stock the shelves of the food bank included pasta, canned fruit and incidentals like shampoo and soap. Leslie said often people that need just a bit of extra help come in looking for toiletries.

“I just want to thank the community, we are so grateful for the support. We are able to give people hope because of the kindness of the community.”