A Halloween treat for the food bank

Penticton youngster forgoes candy to collect items for local food bank

Salvation Army program co-ordinator Barb Stewart in the Penticton food bank with Katie Henderson

Salvation Army program co-ordinator Barb Stewart in the Penticton food bank with Katie Henderson

It wasn’t Katie Henderson’s costume that got a rise from some Penticton residents this Halloween, but rather her unusual doorstep request.

The 11-year-old girl, who went trick-or-treating in a clown outfit, surprised people when she asked not for candy but for non-perishable food items to help stock the shelves at the Salvation Army food bank.

Henderson, a KVR Middle School student, said the idea came up during a presentation on leadership given to her Grade 6 class a day earlier. So with minimal time to prepare and a piano lesson to get through beforehand on Halloween night, she finally set out around 7:30 p.m. and collected 40 items on one block of Windsor Avenue.

“It felt good,” she said, adding the canned goods were heavy.  “I’m glad we had my dad to carry them around.”

Her mom, Joyce Chen, said most people were bewildered at first but then happily rummaged through their cupboards to scare up donations.

“They all made her stay and said, ‘We’ll find something for you, hang in there.’” Chen said. “And some people didn’t give one item, they gave a handful.’”

Salvation Army program co-ordinator Barb Stewart said the donations, which were dropped off Saturday, weighed a total of 12 kilograms.

“Every little bit helps,” said Stewart, who was particularly pleased to hear how Henderson acted on her own.

“She did this of her own accord; that’s the beautiful thing,” said Stewart.  “It’s so beautiful to see young people in this community supporting what they know is a growing need.”

Henderson’s next mission is raising awareness about the Kraft Food for Families campaign underway now. The company will donate 50 cents to the local food bank for each person who registers his or her name online at www.kraftfoodforfamilies.ca.

The challenge also breaks up the country into five regions and whichever food bank in each group registers the most names will receive a $5,000 bonus. As of Thursday morning, Penticton had earned $459, while a food bank in Nanaimo led the region with $1,522. The campaign runs until Dec. 31.

Stewart said the money is earmarked for infrastructure needs, such as shelving or upgraded work tables. She added that Kraft this summer provided the food bank with $11,500 to buy a forklift.