CP Holiday Train helps stock food bank

Friends in Need Food Bank is pumping out 750 to 800 hampers per month.

They’re good – for now.

Thanks to the kindness of strangers, the Friends in Need Food Bank has topped up its reserves, following the last-minute fundraisers this Christmas.

“So we are chock-a-block full,” executive-director Mary Robson said Monday.

“But that doesn’t mean it’s going to last through the year. Right now, we have an abundance of food. Our sorters are burning out.”

The food bank is pumping out 750 to 800 hampers per month now and needs the Christmas season in order to build up its reserves for the following 12 months.

Last year, it was running out of some items by March.

School kids, firefighters, Canadian Pacific’s Holiday Train and ordinary people are the reason the warehouse and shelves are stuffed now.

Friday’s arrival of the Holiday Train at the Port Haney train station resulted in 1,675 pounds (760 kilograms) of food donated by Maple Ridge fans who showed up to look at the lights and hear Jim Cuddy from Blue Rodeo.

In Pitt Meadows, 1,876 pounds (850 kg) of food were collected.

“So Pitt Meadows, beat us again,” Robson said.

For cash donations, Pitt Meadows residents and visitors gave a total of $2,220. On top of that, was an $800-cheque donation from Coast Capital Savings, for a total of $3,020.

Maple Ridge collected only $2,852.

“When you look at [donations] per capita, Pitt Meadows is way ahead again.”

It’s only the second year the train has stopped in Pitt Meadows.

Students and teachers throughout the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows school district have also pitched in, as always.

“The schools have done an amazing job in their food drive.”

The same goes for last Saturday’s Breakfast with Santa event, hosted by NorthRidge Church.

The Firefighters for Families Food Drive that took place Dec. 12, also made a difference as did Whonnock Roofing’s annual grocery shopping spree.

Maple Ridge firefighters raised about $6,000 in cash for the food bank, plus food donations, from that day when firefighters stood outside grocery stores. The proceeds are split evenly between the food bank and the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society.

In Pitt Meadows, the same event raised about $2,888 for the food bank.

Whonnock Roofing helped out with the final push with its annual grocery shopping spree last week.

About a dozen employees and their families swooped into Save-On Foods in the downtown and bought $5,012 worth of groceries.

Part of that included $500 worth of gift cards.

It’s the 10th year the company has run the event, with a total donation during that time of about $50,000.

“We’re just trying to give back,” said owner Clay Gagnon.

“This community has been good for us. It’s one of the ways, that’s all it is.”

The roofers filled the carts with the top 10 most-needed food items at the food bank. “Save-On is an unsung hero in all this as well,” Gagnon added.

The store discounts some items allowing more bang for the buck in the shopping spree.

Robson said the food bank has been highlighting the most-needed items, “trying to get people to focus on the items we need for our hampers. We really think that’s paying off.”

Currently, the top-five items needed at the food bank are canned meals, such as ravioli or spaghetti, canned tomato sauce, chunky soups and Ensure, a food supplement for seniors.

“One thing we are always low on is canned fruits and vegetables.”

 

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