One of Cochrane's most successful events is getting ready to occur this Saturday (September 15).

Helping Hands Society of Cochrane and Area in partnership with the Cochrane Activettes as well as Family Community Support Services is preparing for the bi-annual food drive in hopes to stock the shelves of our local food bank.

Sandra Scott, Programs Manager for Helping Hands shares, although, demand continues to go up thanks to 700 volunteers and 1300 collected boxes of food from the April food drive, they have been able to keep up. "It was starting to get pretty tight before the April drive came along but because the last drive, was a record drive, we did more than we ever have before. So this is perfect timing we're just starting to see the need and we're going to be filling it up again."

In 2017, 997 hampers were distributed equating to helping 2650 individuals. While some people may be shocked at the numbers, Scott says in some cases people are only accessing the food bank on a one-off, one-time basis. "I think people have this perception that people who use the food bank are people that use the food bank all the time. If you look at September for example, as a single mom and all of the sudden you have to pay for hockey, school fees, and everything, I may not need a hamper all the time but maybe in September and October, it's just too tight. Or you have someone who maybe has medical issues and can't work for six weeks and now they're having trouble with food security so a hamper is what helps them get through."

In order to make sure no one in the Cochrane area goes hungry or without basic staples, Helping Hands is asking you to put your non-perishable food donations on your doorstep (bagged or boxed) before 10 a.m. If you happen to forget, volunteers will knock on your door but readily available donations will make the process much faster. Scott shares how you can help. "The food bank website has a running ticker across the website stating what some of their biggest needs are for that time. The standard is mixed beans, peanut butter, canned vegetables, canned fruit, canned meats and not to forget things like toilet paper and diapers because people always need those as well."

Scott reminds residents to check expiry dates and to make sure donated items are in original packaging. "We do not pass on any expired items; if they come we just dispose of them, so it doesn't really help us."

While Scott would love to see us surpass last April's collection amount she says the goal is to beat September 2017. "We would still like to have over 700 volunteers and collect 1100 or 1200 cases to make sure we have everyone taken care of until April, then we'll do it all over again."

Besides non-perishable items, monetary donations can be made and are eligible for a charitable receipt.

The Cochrane community and outlying area have always been supportive and Scott is hopeful to see the same support this time. "We used to provide about 90% of the food required for the hampers but now we provide about 60% and we're collecting more each time. It's not that we're not doing as much as we used to, it shows the need has gone up. I think Cochrane is great, the volunteers are great, and I really appreciate the whole community. We welcome anyone who wants to come and be involved."

Last reminders: place donations on your doorstep by 10 a.m., watch for drivers/volunteers in neighbourhoods Saturday morning, and you can sign up to volunteer all the way up until Friday morning (September 14) by emailing [email protected]

To see immediate needs for the food bank, go HERE.


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