Sidney volunteer firefighter Rick Toogood (left) joins Brian Thomas of North Saanich Fire Rescue, Bev Elder of the Saanich Peninsula Food Bank, Pat Robbins and Central Saanich firefighter Kirk Tamburino as they embark on the annual Peninsula Firefighters Food Drive, Dec. 15. (Kristyn Anthony/News staff)

Peninsula firefighters look to the community for help in giving back

Annual food drive will collect donations of food, cash or cheque in neighbourhoods throughout the Peninsula, Dec. 15

When the North Saanich Fire Department started collecting food donations during the holiday season 19 years ago, their contribution made a significant impact to the local food bank, but they knew they could up the ante – and so they did.

Now, for the third consecutive year in partnership with the Sidney and Central Saanich fire departments, the Peninsula Firefighters Food Drive returns Dec. 15 to collect donations of both food and financial assistance to benefit the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank.

“I think we see with the price of housing in the community in general, you can’t help but see the need is getting bigger and the pressure on the food bank is getting more,” says Brian Thomas of the North Saanich department.

RELATED: Name change doesn’t change food bank operations

A week before the collection date, members of the fire departments will drop grocery bags on the doorsteps of North Saanich residents. If they feel so inclined and are able, filling the bags with donations of food and toiletries is encouraged.

On Dec. 15, all three departments will haul out the fire trucks for a massive pickup initiative.

“It’s the good people of the community that donate the food,” Thomas is quick to point out. “We’re just the collectors and we love to do it.”

The annual drive is so successful – filling 20 extra pallets on the food bank shelves – that executive director Bev Elder says the haul often gets the 1,000 people who regularly access the food bank each month, through to early spring.

Once the weather gets cold, donations increase, Elder says, but that doesn’t mean the need isn’t there year-round as evidenced by the ever-increasing operation, run in a number of locations since 1984.

“That just takes a lot of the pressure off,” Elder says of the drive. “We have a high number of seniors coming through the door now.”

More than 13 per cent of the food bank’s clientele is over the age of 65 and Elder notes that number is rising.

“Most people are okay,” she says. “But, if they lose a partner, pensions are disappearing, and housing out here is not cheap.”

RELATED: Saanich’s little known food bank serves 100 people per week

Rick Toogood, of the Sidney Fire Department, says participating in the drive for 11 years, he has seen first hand there is no shortage of need on the Peninsula.

“My sense is that over the years, the demographic has changed,” he says. “I don’t know that there is a real stereotypical idea of who uses the food bank anymore. It crosses all ages and backgrounds.”

In Sidney and Central Saanich, crews will also comb neighbourhoods on Dec. 15 for collection.

Folks are also encouraged to donate cloth or canvas bags if they are on hand, as well as items like toilet paper, feminine hygiene products or even toothpaste.

“No one thinks about donating that but they’re not necessarily low cost items yet they’re things that everybody needs,” Toogood says.

The direct impact people in the community can have on their neighbour is what keeps Toogood involved in such an important event, showing those in need they have support.

“It always tugs at your heart a little bit,” he says. “It doesn’t matter whether we get one can or 1,000 cans. It’s the presence and just being out there.”

The Peninsula Firefighters Food Drive collects food, cash or cheque donations – made payable to the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank.


@kristyn_anthony
kristyn.anthony@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Canadian students are smart cookies

Canadian teachers also among highest paid in the developed world

Local fundraising initiative addresses tampon recall

Period Posse checking donations during 10-day campaign

Victoria Literacy Connection needs volunteers for new Reading Partner program

The program will be in five Greater Victoria elementary schools

Inspired by her kindergartners, Oak Bay teacher organizes fundraiser

Sally Hallam’s class is creating calendars to help plant trees

VicPD notify public of sexual assault with weapon in Esquimalt

Officers ask residents to be vigilant while investigation continues

Langford elementary school kids test their hand at entrepreneurship

Students sold their own products at a Young Entrepreneurs Fair Friday

POLL: Are you dreaming of a white Christmas?

The rain Vancouver Island is famous for is coming down in buckets,… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Dec. 11, 2018

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Risk of catching the flu increasing in B.C. this holiday season: BCCDC

Dr. Danuta Skowronski with the BC Centre for Disease Control says influenza will pick up during the holidays

Boeser has 2 points as Canucks ground Flyers 5-1

WATCH: Vancouver has little trouble with slumping Philly side

B.C. animation team the ‘heart’ of new ‘Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse’

The animators, largely based in Vancouver, ultimately came up with a creative technique that is drawing praise

Light at the end of the tunnel for UN climate talks

Meeting in Katowice was meant to finalize how countries report their emissions of greenhouses gases

Janet Jackson, Def Leppard, Nicks join Rock Hall of Fame

Radiohead, the Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies will also be ushered in at the 34th induction ceremony

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

Most Read