The Firefighters Community Food Drive to support the Oilfields Food Bank is back.
Firefighters will be going door-to-door in Longview and Black Diamond on Nov. 7, and door-to-door in Turner Valley on Nov. 8, starting at 6 p.m., to collect donations for the local food bank.
“It's a very critical food drive for us,” said Karen Milne, food bank vice-president. “The community can get involved and it'll be a wonderful thing for us.”
Usually an annual event, the food drive had been cancelled in recent years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Milne said problems aren't going away.
“I think we're in the middle of an economic pandemic right now, and it's just going globally around the world," she said.
“It is just a catastrophic time for people who are on limited income.”
The Oilfields Food Bank is located in Turner Valley at the United Church in the Valley. It serves western Foothills County, including Turner Valley, Black Diamond, Longview, Millarville and Priddis. This year, the food bank has helped over 1,000 people, with more than 20 first-time users, according to the food bank’s website.
A special aspect of the door-to-door drive is the food bank gets items beyond the staples that traditionally go into hampers.
“We get a lot of random items, which are a true bonus to us,” Milne said.
They are items that people on a limited budget who are trying to feed a family would never buy, she said.
"Folks love that part of it. That's when you'll see someone say, 'Oh my gosh, I haven't had this kind of mustard in two years,'" Milne said.
There is currently a high demand being put on food banks, and Milne said that food insecurity can happen to anyone.
“It could be your neighbour, it could be someone you work with, it could be someone in your family, it could be a friend,” she said.
If anyone would like to donate, but won’t be at home, they can leave a bag out on the step and firefighters will pick it up, she said.
“Sometimes people have cheques or cash they'd like to pass along," she added. "And they can certainly give an envelope to a firefighter as well for that.”
She asks that people check the expiry dates on items, and if it’s well past its date, not to include it in the donation.
With Christmas on its way, Milne asks that people include small, unopened items with their food bank donation, if they can.
“Maybe it's something like a nice bar of soap or a toiletry,” she said. “Or they've got a nice pair of socks that they're just they've never worn, that’s brand new."
Those things will be set aside for a last-minute gift table that people can browse when they pick up Christmas hampers at the food bank.
“If they need a gift for someone, they can take an item or two, or if they are living on their own, they're not going to have a gift, then they're welcome to take one of those items,” Milne said.
For more information, visit oilfieldsfoodbank.com.