Food Banks Embody the Spirit of Giving—All Year Round

Across the Basin, people in communities of all types—big, small, urban and rural—use the services of the region’s 31 food banks. These may be run by the communities themselves, local churches or service organizations. They may have paid employees or not. But they do have several things in common: the critical role of volunteers, love of community, dedication to helping others and vital importance to those that access them.

The Trust recognizes how essential food banks can be in ensuring the well-being of residents and communities. To that end, we support food banks in various ways, from providing funding so they can implement projects, to helping the organizations themselves become more efficient and effective through our Non-profit Advisors Program. Plus, every December the Trust gives a little bit extra to every food bank to help with the holiday rush.

“The volunteers keep this place going—they are the backbone of what we do here every day. I am just privileged to be part of it.”

This is Linda Rake. She has been a coordinator with the Trail Salvation Army for 23 years. She works with a dedicated crew of 20 volunteers who provide daily meals and monthly hampers. The Trail Salvation Army food bank is one of two in Trail; the other is operated by the Trail United Church.

“In November we provided lunch for 1,000 people and we’ve started a breakfast program that saw 75 people last month.”

The branch celebrated its 100th anniversary this year and Linda says it’s the people she gets to meet and the connections she makes in her community that she loves most about her work.

“This is such a wonderful community for volunteering. Being able to meet and help others is the best part of my job.”

Linda and her volunteers will pack and distribute close to 300 Christmas hampers this December.

The Arrow and Slocan Lakes Community Services Society in Nakusp provides monthly hampers along with a Meals on Wheels and frozen meals program.

This year on December 21, 10 volunteers will pack and deliver 142 Christmas hampers within Nakusp and to nearby communities like Burton, Fauquier and Edgewood.

For Anne Miskulin, food bank coordinator, the spirit of giving shines brightly in Nakusp.

“Our volunteers have a love for this program. And we receive so much support from local businesses. It gives us a lot of pleasure to help others. Everyone is so thankful.”

The Valemount Food Bank’s Board has seven directors who are also its volunteers. Each month the seven members come together to assist 10 to 12 families. Vice President, Sherry Tinsley, is proud of their collaborative efforts to help the organization better serve the community.

“My favourite part of being involved with the food bank is brainstorming on how we can make the food bank better by offering more wholesome, healthier options to people This organization is special because we all share the same vision for the food bank by way of privacy, healthier options, accessibility and safety.”

Supporting local agriculture is part of that vision. The food bank includes local produce – carrots and potatoes – along with eggs from an area farm.

Meeting the individual needs of their community members is always top of mind for the Board. “We deliver hampers to those that need delivery, try to be aware of food allergies and provide extra treats for the children when we can,” says Sherry.

This level of care for their small community is reflected in the Christmas hampers the group packed this month.

“We recently put our Christmas hampers together and it was a warm feeling to know that these clients will have an awesome Christmas dinner with all the trimmings and a few extras that I’m sure they will truly appreciate.”

Over a stretch of 65 kilometres, Pastor Richard Dannhauer and his volunteers are bringing Christmas cheer to the small communities that dot Kootenay Lake’s East Shore.

The East Shore Christmas Hamper program sees Dannhauer and 15 other volunteers packing and distributing 50 hampers to East Shore residents. It’s a project that starts well before the holidays with local fundraising and food drives.

“We start ordering and collecting in October. Many people are involved in helping us raise funds and collect food and other contents for the hampers. The Crawford Bay School did a food drive and fundraiser and we held a local event that raised $2,000 in one evening. It’s neat how—from young people to seniors—folks contribute to their community.”

Dannhauer is not surprised by the support. “These are very loving, giving communities. People just want to help others at this time of year and share some kindness.”

The Elkford Food Bank has been supporting local residents for over 20 years. For six of these, volunteer Karen Lewis has been helping provide monthly hampers on as-needed basis.

She and other volunteers will provide 14 hampers this December—and is thankful that this number is lower than in years past.

“It depends on the economy—some years we have had to provide more help than others.”

December hampers always include presents for the younger members of the families. Karen says that what makes her work at this time of the year special is knowing that local children will all have gifts to open.

“It’s because of the kids, knowing that there will be no children in our community without a present at Christmas.”

You can learn more about food banks in your area by visiting Food Banks BC at www.foodbanksbc.com. At this time of giving and sharing, please consider volunteering your time or donating to a group that makes a difference in your community.

Photos: Dogwood Photography – Rachel Brayshaw