GRADE 9 STUDENTS Jessica Barkhouse and Hannah Perrin with some of the donations that have already rolled in to Princess Margaret Secondary School for the 10

Penticton students coming knocking for food drive

Kids from both high schools hit the streets Wednesday to collect donations for Salvation Army food bank during annual 10,000 Tonight event

Inside Friday’s edition of the Western News you should find a brown paper bag that local students are hoping you’ll fill with donations for the Salvation Army Food Bank.

Kids from both Penticton high schools will then hit the streets on Wednesday night to collect those bags, plus any others that contain non-perishables food items for the Sally Ann.

The effort is part of the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive and is being spearheaded this year by Princess Margaret Secondary School principal Terry Grady, who has plenty of assistance.

“It’s a large job. There are 500 kids involved and we have approximately 75 adult drivers,” said Grady.

“Now, lots of people make a big job relatively easy and I’m thankful we have so many people involved volunteering and helping out.”

This marks the 12th year he’s been part of the event, and the principal said finding volunteers is usually the easy part.

“Because it’s been around for so long, I think the words 10,000 Tonight are synonymous with Christmas time and activity around schools now. Kids mark it on their calendars. They get involved.”

Students will arrive at Maggie at 5 p.m. on Wednesday to select their routes, then head out to pick up donations.

Grady said you can make their job easier by leaving items in a bag — paper or plastic — on your doorstep.

Once their routes are done, volunteers will assemble back at the school where they’ll  work with helpers from the Salvation Army to sort donations, which will then be trucked over to the food bank.

Last year’s event collected 12,850 items, but Grady hasn’t set a hard target for 2013 because there are too many variables involved.

“Depending on the weather, it can be very, very cold or snowing and we don’t get to all the routes or all the houses on the routes,” he explained.

The food bank will be pleased with whatever it gets from the drive, which is its biggest, single source of non-perishable supplies.

“It’s a pretty big deal. It really helps carry us after the Christmas season, especially,” said Joey Cyr, the Salvation Army’s community services supervisor.

“During the Christmas season, lots of people are giving and it’s in the front of people’s minds and they want to help out.

“But after the Christmas season — January, February, March — we tend to hit a lull and 10,000 Tonight really helps carry us through that,” said Cyr.

“We have a very generous community and they always come through for us. We definitely couldn’t do it without them.”