Chet Greason, email@example.com
The House of Blessing partnered with the Salvation Army this past weekend to hold a Stuff the Bus event at the Zehrs on Ontario Street.
Collecting non-perishable food items for both organizations' food banks, the annual drive contributes much needed items to local families during the holiday season.
"I like to say it's like a river," said the House of Blessing's operations coordinator, Jean Schwartzentruber, of the food bank. "As fast as it comes in, it goes out.
"Currently, we have enough for the moment … but it's never enough."
This past November, the House of Blessing's food bank serviced 600 people in need. The Salvation Army's helped an additional 500.
"We broke records in November," said Stratford Salvation Army administrative assistant Janette Smith, who added the organization's food bank typically helps between 2,000 - 2,500 people annually.
Also on hand helping Saturday were Nathan Templeman and Nick Nigro of the Stratford Cullitons, who were distributing handbills to shoppers inside Zehrs asking them to make a contribution.
The most needed items include peanut butter, cereal, canned fruits and vegetables, pasta and sauce, juice, and canned fish or meat. In addition to donating food, shoppers could make a $2 donation through their grocery bill.
The Stuff the Bus event was part of the Extra Helping Holiday Food Drive, a national event organized by Loblaws and Food Banks Canada. Loblaw Companies Ltd will make an additional $250,000 to Food Banks Canada in support of its national initiatives.
Locally, the yellow school bus parked in front of Zehrs was slowly filling with laundry baskets and reusable shopping bags full of food.
Schwartzentruber and Smith seemed pleased with the response. At day's end, over 700 pounds of donated food was collected.
"Stratford is so generous," said Schwartzentruber. "You put the word out that there's a need and they're so ready to open their hearts and wallets."
The House of Blessing and Salvation Army will continue collecting donated food items at the Zehrs and No Frills stores in Stratford until Dec. 16. Also, Perth County EMS will be holding a food drive for the Salvation Army at Sobeys this Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.