For the first time, Parkview United Church has conceived the community food drive, â€śHelp Park Summer Hungerâ€ť in support of Stratford House of Blessing. The Outreach Committee, co-Chaired by Richard and Maxine Cook have had very thoughtful discussion in planning the event in June, choosing the date and time so that it doesnâ€™t conflict with Fatherâ€™s Day or Saturday afternoon matinees at the Festival.
â€śWe wanted to choose a weekend that stands out on its own. In speaking with the House of Blessing, their biggest time of need is July and August because people are going away on holidays and school is out, and the need for food is still there. We didnâ€™t want the following weekend because we didnâ€™t want it to meld in with Fatherâ€™s Day,â€ť said Cook.
The food drive will be held June 11Â from 9 a.m. - 1 p.m., and on June 12 from 9 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. It will be located at the front of Parkview United Church at 470 Ontario St.
â€śEveryone is welcome to drop off, not just our church. If kids want to drop something off when Dads say they donâ€™t want anything for Fatherâ€™s Day, they can do that instead. We have also set up that on the Friday that anyone that canâ€™t get out, maybe canâ€™t drive or doesnâ€™t want to use public transport, that we will also go out and make pickups for three hours. Weâ€™ve added that as a bit of a twist you donâ€™t have often,â€ť added Cook.
It is their hope that donations include dry goods like Kraft Dinner, pasta, or rice, and canned goods like vegetables or meat, that donâ€™t have a short expiry date. Fresh fruit and vegetables, while there may be a need, cannot be accommodated as there simply isnâ€™t the facilities to store those items. Such donations are best directed to the Local Community Food Centre.Â
For those that prefer, cash donations will also be accepted at the food drive on behalf of the House of Blessing. Donations over $10 will receive a tax receipt when provided with your personal contact details: name and full address including postal code. To take advantage of this simply pop the cash with details in an envelope when donating. Tax receipts usually take a couple weeks to be issued. It is asked cash donations for the food drive are not taken directly to the House of Blessing because on those days they are busy conducting other business.
â€śWith cash donations, the House of Blessing can purchase what they need as the need exists. People come in and then they find they are low on something on Monday they can go out and get it,â€ť said Cook.
The event is branded â€śHelp Park Summer Hungerâ€ť, and is a food drive for hunger, â€śbecause it doesnâ€™t matter what time of year it is, or who you are, you still have to eat. Hunger doesnâ€™t stop just because itâ€™s warmer outside. I was actually a little surprised to hear of the need in July and August, until you hear the reasoning and it makes total sense. Kids are getting done school at the end of June, they havenâ€™t done anything for the past two years and now they can. Something gets left by the wayside and it seems that sometimes itâ€™s the food banks,â€ť said Cook.
Being the first of what he hopes to be many years for the food drive, the challenge is getting the word out about it. The event is not just for the church family, they is easy to get the word to. It is also for the general public that have a little extra and want to drop off $5 or $10 worth of groceries. The Committee will look after getting it to the House of Blessing on the following Monday.
Volunteers and committee members will accept donations and load them onto the Cook family truck. People can walk by or drive by and they can put it in the donation bin, or if dry goods can go right into the truck. He said itâ€™s such a low maintenance event, if people donâ€™t even want to get out of their car they can pop the hatch and three of four people will empty it for them and put it in the truck.
They are trying to make it as participation friendly as they can. On Sunday people can drop off before or after church at their leisure and on Saturday before the 2:00 pm performance giving people four hours to make their way. The hardest part of the logistics of the inaugural event is communicating the event to the public. There will be a poster campaign and the church has a Facebook page they will use and the congregation can share the post but,Â
â€śThere are still people that like paper and newspaper copy so they can read and go back to and read again. We also hope to use some highly visible signage in town,â€ť said Cook.