Food Bank wraps-up another Christmas season

When all was said and done, 135 hampers went out of the 140 applied for

Pat and Heather Stanley, Clearwater and District Food Bank

Christmas at Clearwater and District Food Bank was a wild and bumpy ride.

When all was said and done, 135 hampers went out of the 140 applied for. Of the five hampers unclaimed, three no longer were needed and the applicants for two were unable to be contacted.

The 135 hampers represent approximately 405 people, including 110 children.These totals show a significant 22 per cent increase over Christmas 2012, when 109 hampers (327 people) were supplied.

This year we had five sponsored families and we thank all the individuals and groups that participated. While the sponsorship program is anonymous and can be costly, most participants find it gratifying to make a difference in a family’s life. The benefit to the recipient family is far more than food and gifts; it is also belonging to a community and knowing someone cares and is willing to help. If you would like to learn more, please give us a call.

Once again, the hearts of Clearwater joined forces and made it possible for the Clearwater and District Food Bank to continue. We had an unprecedented amount of donations for December. We will still have to be diligent regarding how we spend our money, but are no longer in immediate fear of turning people away or closing our doors.

We will institute new qualifying guidelines with the help of Food Banks B.C. and Food Banks Canada as well as other non-profit organizations. A few people have come forward to help us attain funding through grant writing and applying for community funds. Given that we are a small board of volunteers and have no paid staff, this is a difficult and daunting process.

With their guidance we are confident we can be more successful in this endeavor.

Our cost of operating is still a concern, and all measures to cut these back will be considered, as long as they meet our capacity needs. We need an office with a waiting area, bathrooms, work area for building hampers, and short and long term storage areas.

We have to pay for rent, phone, hydro, insurance, licensing, office supplies, gas and, most importantly, food.We are happy where we are and have everything we need at our present location, our only problem being that we now use almost the entire building and with the increased cost we are using money that should be spent for food.

We all have a deep and profound respect and gratitude for our landlords, Pat and Deb Downey. They have done everything they can to accommodate us, including taking a considerable loss of rent they could be receiving.

We cannot expect them or the rest of Clearwater to keep giving more and more. We have to find sustainable funding and cost effective solutions. In order to achieve this we have approximately a dozen volunteers that manage the day-to-day operations, fundraising, and the hours of organizing and work it takes to make a Food Bank run effectively.Living in this community makes it all worthwhile.

The generosity of individuals and community groups that stepped up to thwart the Grinch threatening to take us down was awe inspiring.

Donations large and small came pouring in, from jars of coins to cheques of $1,000 – $1,500 and everything in between. The folks at Rooted By the River took considerable financial risk, stood in the cold selling Christmas trees to people living in a forest, and contributed $660 to the Food Bank.

There were lunch sales at the schools, offices and businesses donating money instead of exchanging gifts, children collecting food instead of birthday presents, and the list goes on and on.

The Food Bank volunteers and its recipients are forever in your debt and eternally grateful.

And thank you Keith McNeill for highlighting our concerns so accurately in the Times , Nov. 29 issue, so your readers and our community could understand the depth of the problems still facing many of the families around them.