‘We are indeed our brothers’ keepers’

You can't miss these reminders about Saturday's Welland Food Drive when you are out and about in the city. (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

You can’t miss these reminders about Saturday’s Welland Food Drive when you are out and about in the city. (Photo by Joe Barkovich)

By Joe Barkovich, Scribbler-at-large
Saturday is a big day in Welland. It is Welland Food Drive day. This is the 22nd city-wide food drive. Proceeds from this huge initiative go to help stock the shelves at Hope Centre, Open Arms Mission and Salvation Army food banks.
Monique Finley is the food drive chairperson. Busy as she is, she found time to respond by e-mail to a few questions I sent to her this morning.
How many volunteers do you expect for Saturday’s food drive? What has the response been like this year? Are you seeing any indication of waning interest in the community?
There will be about 400-500 volunteers involved on this day.  As far as interest in the community – we are in a position where we have more than enough people at this point and have to find a loving way to say – no more.
How many routes will there be on Saturday?
I don’t know the exact number, Shirley is in charge of this but I believe the city is broken down into about 70 routes.
How many of those street signs have been distributed, just an approximation will suffice. They’re great.
The street signs are the sole responsibility of the Martin family. Cathy and Wayne along with their daughters Samantha (an employee at the Hope Centre), Erin and Tabatha place, collect, clean and store our precious signs. I don’t know what we would do without this family.
How long does it take to: gather up the food and then to sort it for the three recipient food banks?
I only really know the gathering part  – four intense hours and then throughout the afternoon by a skeleton crew.  The food starts coming in as early as 10:30 and most routes are done by 1 p.m.  We will also have about ten teams going out throughout the afternoon to simply drive streets and collect left behind food.
In your conversations with food bank reps, how great is the need this year?
It is always great, eh Joe.  They hang on ’til this day and then they are set for 4-5 months.
What do you want to tell Wellanders about the importance of donating to the Welland Food Drive?
In my opinion giving to a community, to our neighbours is a good thing. I believe like so many, that we are indeed our brothers’ keepers. There is not a resident in Welland who does not know someone who has, at least from time-to-time, fallen on hard times. We know that hunger is not something that any Canadian should have to live with, not in Canada, not when we as a country has so much.  Any act of charity is a good thing so donating to the food drive on Nov. 1, can be one way to extend an all too often required helping hand.
That’s it.That’s my interview by e-mail with the guiding hand behind the city-wide food drive. Short and sweet it is.Thanks, Monique!
(A former reporter and city editor, Joe Barkovich lives in Welland, Ontario, Canada’s Rose City.)

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