St. Clair church’s food drive rebounds

44th annual Ecumenical Food Drive receives 18,000 items this year, most since 2010

The steady beat of objects hitting tables, punctuated by voices calling out numbers, filled the basement of Our Lady of Perpetual Help on Nov. 28 as dozens of volunteers, from members of the congregation to neighbours to students to Ward 27 councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam, eagerly stuffed canned and non-perishable food items from a constant stream of donors into beer boxes for the 78 Clifton Rd. church’s 44th annual Ecumenical Food Drive.

“21,” Wong-Tam told volunteer Dympna O’Byrne as she added another box to the basement’s rapidly growing stack, referring to the number of items inside.

“27,” Helen Garcia, volunteering with her son Hans, said.

“19,” Resident Doug MacIntosh said.

“It’s important to collect these donations because you’re doing something for the community,” Roma MacDonald, who was volunteering with her mother, Franca Panetta, said. “You’re helping other people that need help.”

“We want to do our part to help people who are having difficulties making ends meet,” Wong-Tam, who is now in her fifth year of volunteering for the drive, said. “Sometimes a drive like this makes a difference between having a healthy meal and not having a meal, and I don’t want kids and families to go to bed hungry.”

It’s that type of commitment to supporting the community that’s driven Brian Kearney, the Our Lady of Perpetual Help congregant, Society of St. Vincent de Paul volunteer and St. Clair resident who has chaired the drive for almost 20 years.

However, despite the campaign’s longevity, donations had been falling since 2010, Kearney admitted, and organizers had been wondering if the drive should continue.

Fortunately this year’s drive raised 18,000 items — an increase of about 20 percent from last year, Kearney said — which the four agencies and food banks supported by the drive will rely on through the spring months, when donations slow down.

“Now I know that we should carry on,” he said. “There are a lot of working poor in the city who are just making minimum wage, and they have to go to food banks because otherwise they can’t survive.”

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Posted: Dec 12 2015 9:48 pm
Filed in: NEWS