Firefighters from three separate departments will once again combine forces to collect donations for the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank, when the Peninsula Firefighters Food Drive takes place Saturday, Dec. 10.
Lt. Rick Toogood, who helps coordinate the food drive for the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department, said the actual logistics of the drive will not be that different from previous ones. But it is happening against a different background — a background that includes inflation and a looming economic recession.
Bev Elder, executive director of the food bank, has made it clear that the food bank has seen a definite uptake, more so than in previous years, said Toogood. The food drive is always important. “But with that backdrop that you are talking about, it takes on a new meaning,” he said.
David Spencer, president of the North Saanich Volunteer Firefighters Association, struck a comparable note. “I think the need has actually grown during this pandemic period,” he said in pointing to the current economic pressure. “There are just more people drawing on the food bank.”
Toogood also expressed a personal concern likely shared by others. “It’s harder for everybody this year it seems like.” While the public has always been extremely supportive of the food drive, what impact will the tough economic times have on donations? “As you say, with war, with inflation, with costs going up, people don’t have the same amount of donating power as they had in the past. “
Toogood said the Sidney Volunteer Fire Department wants to raise $15,000 on top of food donations in marking its 15th year of participating in the food drive. “Bev turns that into $45,000 (worth of food),” he said. “Money goes a lot further than a can of beans and a box of macaroni. It’s great when people donate that, but where they can really make a big difference is (through) cash donations.”
In Central Saanich, firefighters will collect items between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Residents can also drop items at Fire Station No. 1 and the Municipal Hall between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. from Dec. 5-9.
In North Saanich, firefighters will be collecting donations throughout the Eaglehurst neighbourhood starting at 12:45 p.m. and Dean Park starting at 1:30 p.m., according to Spencer. Residents can also drop off items at the Wain Road Fire Hall between Dec. 1-9 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
In Sidney, firefighters will be collecting throughout neighbourhoods north of Beacon Avenue between 4 and 7:30 p.m. Residents can also drop off items at the Sidney Community Building on Dec. 10 between 1 and 7:30 p.m. Residents can also drop off items Dec. 1-9 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:3o p.m. at the Sidney Community Safety Building.
As in years past, local firefighters will add Christmas elements to give the drive a more decorative, seasonal feel. “We (Sidney) will be using the lights and playing Christmas music to make that a family event,” he said.
In North Saanich, Santa will make an appearance, handing out candy canes and posing for pictures, said Spencer.
Last year’s food drive broke several records. And that support will be needed as Elder said demand for the food bank is rising as Christmas draws near.
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