Sooke Food Bank fills its cupboards for Christmas

Community comes together with initiatives to feed the hungry

It looks like it’s going to be a warmer and more nourishing Christmas for those less fortunate this year, thanks to the local community’s combined effort to feed the Sooke Food Bank.

Donation efforts in recent weeks stemmed from a variety of local initiatives, such as the 10K Tonight Food Drive at Edward Milne Community School, in which students collected and individually-sorted an impressive 6,000 non-perishable food items for the food bank.

The Sooke Christmas Bureau, an extension of the Sooke Food Bank, played a significant role as well in collecting funds, food, and toys to help around 320 families living in the Sooke region. In November, the District of Sooke made a $7,000 grant that helped provide the bureau with turkeys.

Sookies also saw red, yellow and white lights glowing through their neighborhoods, with this year’s Santa Run, which had firefighters, elves, collecting money and food in four fire trucks. The event, which is put on by the Sooke Fire Department, Sooke Firefighters Association, and the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 4841, raised more than $10,000 this year for the local food bank.

“The people in Sooke were so generous, the schools and the firefighters, and all the businesses, they were dropping stuff off left and right,” said Mike Thomas, a volunteer with the Sooke Food Bank and co-chair of the Sooke Christmas Bureau.

Thomas is part of 30 or so volunteers at the food bank who collect, prepare, organize and distribute hampers for the needy in the local community.

So far, given the efforts made, the food bank is good for the next three months, but Thomas pointed out the numbers of local clients are up nine per cent, and though there are roughly 60 less children this year, around 500 more adults turned up at the door for hampers.

Food bank volunteers also have to do weekly purchases of short-lasting items such as meat and veggies, though Thomas added they have enough soup and non-perishables.

The Sooke Christmas Bureau was also busy last weekend with its hamper sorting and giveout, and was also given a visit by MLA John Horgan, who dropped in with a donation and offered to help sorting efforts with the volunteers.

The bureau will be taking donations until the end of December. Mail donations to P.O. Box 983, Sooke, B.C. V9Z 1H9.