Tim Collins / News staff
The seventh annual Revelstoke Community Connections Emergency Services Food Drive attracted more than 300 volunteers on Tuesday evening, and while the city’s emergency service staff were leaders in the effort, the volunteers spanned every age and walk of life.
Jenna Fraser, the Community Connections food and outreach coordinator was on-site, signing up the volunteers as they began arriving around 5 p.m. By 6 p.m., that cadre of volunteers had grown to well over 350 and everywhere people were calling out to friends and greeting acquaintances they may not have seen for a while.
There were a lot of smiles…and hugs…all despite the swarms of the little black bugs that descended on the crowd, in an apparent effort to spoil the mood. It didn’t work.
The community was well represented, with the entire Grizzlies hockey team making volunteering their time despite the fact that they’d had two practices that day as well as school work to which they had to attend.
As evidenced by the name of the event, the city’s emergency services were well represented with, it seemed, just about every member of the local RCMP, firefighters, paramedics, and CP Police on hand.
Bob Girard, of the Revelstoke fire department reported that 28 members of the force were volunteering their time and had been looking forward to the event for weeks.
“This is a great night for us, sort of like Halloween for adults,” said Girard.
The emergency services vehicles also played a major role in setting the mood.
“We’re going to have all the emergency vehicles out there leading the way with lights and sirens going,” said Cst. Gary McLaughlin of the RCMP.
“It’s a great way to build enthusiasm and get people out there with their donations. All they have to do is leave the bags out at the end of their property and we’ll pick it up, sort it and get it to the food bank. It doesn’t get any easier than that.”
Apparently the approach worked. Patti Larson, Community Connections program director and one of the organizers of the event reported that the total food collected this year was the most ever picked up for the cause.
“We haven’t got the final totals in yet as donations continue to trickle in, but right now we have just over 12,000 pounds of food and more than $5,000 in cash donations. it’s our highest ever and our totals keep rising. It’s incredible. Our first year (20011) we collected 8,140 pounds of food and we were thrilled. Being able to bring in 50 per cent more than than seven years later is just so incredible. I’m so grateful for the generosity of the people of Revelstoke,” said Larson.
Since that first drive in 2011 the food drive has also generated more than $65,000 in cash donations.