Armed with face masks and disposable gloves, a small army of volunteers gathered much-needed food items for the Williams Lake Salvation Army in a ‘no contact’ food drive this weekend.
Billed the ‘One Food Drive to Rule Them All’ by organizer Hattie Deyo, the Saturday morning effort saw more than 1,600 pounds of food and $3,000 cash totalling $7,000 for the food bank, which has been operating dangerously low on food stocks due to the COVID-19 outbreak and food hoarding that has ensued.
“I’m so glad it went over so well,” said Deyo, whose husband Amos and about a dozen other volunteers took to their vehicles and picked up donations left outside in boxes and bags on residents’ porches.
“We probably had 70 pick ups (at houses),” she said. “I’m glad it went over so well. Our town did good today.”
Deyo said she was inspired to conduct the no contact food drive, which not only meant no contact with residents but also the wiping down of boxes and products with disinfecting wipes, after hearing of the current challenges facing the local food bank.
“I know what it’s like to be in a situation where you are relying on the help of strangers and I think there’s a difference between feeling sorry for people who’ve been there and being there yourself and knowing you could be that person,” Deyo said.
“That’s where it comes from for me. I’ve been there.”
Tamara Robinson, director of family services and community outreach, and Dawn Butt, pastor and executive director of the Salvation Army said the donations will enable them to make more than one hundred food hampers for those in need as well as purchase food for their breakfast and lunch program.
“It’s that much less food we have to buy. It makes a huge difference for us,” said Robinson.
“Right now the community, lower income individuals are suffering with not being able to go to the grocery store to purchase the items they need. There are empty shelves and that is a concern … we are having problems purchasing large amounts of food right now so the fact that the community is coming together to meet that need is very important to us.”
Butt agreed, noting the current situation is also very hard on families with children at home and that every donation to the Salvation Army, such as the food drive Saturday, helps those in need locally is very much appreciated.
“It just shows that community spirit and that nobody wants anybody to go without and that’s really important.”
Deyo said some of the donations even included toilet paper, which has become a hoarded item during the COVID-19 outbreak.
“We actually got a lot of toilet paper which I was super excited to see that people were still willing to give that away. I think it’s a testament to town and to where our hearts are at.”