(From left to right) Aasfi Sadeque, Bailee Ewen, Erik Moore and Michael Carpenter-Newmark are some of the student organizers for the 10,000 Tonight food drive. Bags are found in the Nov. 23 issue of the Penticton Western News that can be filled and left on your doorstep on Nov. 29 when the students will do a pick up. Submitted photo

Penticton students gearing up for 10,000 Tonight food drive

Penticton student organizers discuss the importance of giving back

Schools in the community are preparing for the annual 10,000 Tonight food drive that will benefit Penticton’s Salvation Army Food Bank.

Beginning at 5 p.m. on Nov. 29, students from Penticton Secondary School, Princess Margaret Secondary School, KVR Middle School, and Skaha Lake Middle School will be going door-to-door in Penticton to collect non-perishable food donations. The goal is to donate at least 10,000 food items as a result of the drive.

“We usually surpass that number, but the initial goal is 10,000 food items,” said Aasfi Sadeque, one of the student organizers.

This year the drive is being headed up by Grade 12 students Sadeque, Erik Moore and Michael Newmark out of Pen High and Bailee Ewen out of Maggie.

“What happens is we assign everyone a route, and they’re in charge of knocking on the doors of whatever street that may be, seeing if they would like to donate,” said Ewen. “Once they’re done, they’ll bring everything back to the school so we can count them.”

Moore said the routes are already divided up ahead of the drive, but as student organizers they were required to recruit peers that could collect for each one. He said the schools utilized posters with QR codes that students could scan to sign up online.

“One route usually takes about a half hour, and there’s usually four people per route. So students could go as a group of two or by themselves if they feel more comfortable,” said Moore.

Once the counting is over and the food is delivered, which usually happens at 9 p.m., the Salvation Army provides volunteers with pizza for their hard work. Each student organizer has a unique reason why this initiative is important to them.

“I’ve always been part of 10,000 Tonight because I think it’s a good way to help a lot of people,” said Ewen.

“I feel it’s important for the food bank to be fully-stocked during the winter season because this tends to be the time, in the absence of charitable efforts, it really gets strained,” said Moore.

“Christmas time is a time when people are most generous and charitable so it’s a good time to take advantage of that and stock the food bank for a long time,” said Sadeque.

“The first year I volunteered with 10,000 Tonight I wanted to participate because I heard about it and thought it was interesting – and that actually inspired me to volunteer with the Soupateria,” said Newmark.

No matter the reason behind it, all the organizers agree that getting involved is imperative in order to help the community. According to John Rankin, the Salvation Army Food Bank manager, about 30 per cent of people who access Penticton’s food bank are youth.

“A lot of people don’t realize how much poverty there is around them. About one third of the local recipients of the food bank are under 18 so by taking part in this event with our school, they’re directly helping their peers and people they know, but may not know their struggles,” said Sadeque.

Newmark added that participating is a great way to spend time with your friends while giving back to the community. It can also be a great way to meet new people that have the same values as you.

Moore said the school administrations have been very helpful with aiding their organizing efforts. Ewen added that Rankin has also be an asset for their team.

Rankin said each year the need for the food bank has increased, noting that they’ve seen a particular increase in the number of seniors and families accessing the service. He added they are fortunate that the donations they receive are able to match the need for the service despite the growing demand.

“10,000 Tonight kind of kicks off our donations for the Christmas season, so it’s a real help to us,” said Rankin. “It’s a high point in the year for us for donations, and the Penticton community has been so good to us and the community.”

“It’s amazing that youth are taking leadership roles with this initiative, you know organizing things and making phone calls and it’s wonderful to see them doing that.”

Bags for donations will be sent on Nov. 23 in the Penticton Western News, which can be filled with non-perishable goods and left outside your door for pick-up on Nov. 29 by the students. Donations can also be made at the Salvation Army Food Bank located at 2399 South Main St.

To report a typo, email: editor@pentictonwesternnews.com.

Jordyn Thomson | Reporter

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