Kettle bells will be ringing one last time for Christmas Eve.
The Salvation Army Food Bank’s iconic red kettles are collecting donations at Vernon’s London Drugs, the Village Green Centre (Save on Foods and mall centre), Walmart, Superstore and Butcher Boys.
Funds raised help fill the food bank shelves, which are being utilized by a record number of new families and individuals this year.
“Since March we’ve seen about a 30 per cent increase of the number of people accessing the food bank for the first time,” auxiliary lieutenant Jen Thompson said.
“Close to 400 new families who have never accessed the food bank before.”
The effects of COVID-19 on jobs and the economy are to blame, said Thompson.
“A lot of them are facing sudden unemployment. A lot of anxiety and fear out there too.”
Typically, the Vernon food bank is serving 125 households a week with food hampers. That represents $10,000-$15,000 worth of food. Plus there is daily food access which sees a steady stream of people accessing nourishment.
With provincial health restrictions prohibiting events, the food bank has seen fewer donations due to food drives being cancelled.
“We are anticipating in the spring we are going to have a real shortfall,” Thompson said.
Those who have items to donate can drop them off at the House of Hope (3303 32nd Ave.) or the food bank warehouse (next to the thrift store at 5400 24th St.).
The top 10 most needed items are:
- meat products
- baby formula
- boxed grains (rice, cereals, pastas)
- peanut butter
- fresh fruits and vegetables
- school time snacks
- soups and pasta sauces
There is also a big need for toiletries, with one in particular.
“The number one requested item is usually toilet paper,” children and youth coordinator Jillian Penney said.
Those who aren’t heading out today can donate online at kettle.salvationarmy.ca.
The Salvation Army has seen some significant support from community members and businesses in the area ahead of Christmas.
Tolko Industries’ Lavington plant recently donated $3,500 to the food bank as well as the Salvation Army’s toy hamper, which provides toys for kids at Christmas for less fortunate families.
The funds are from a corporate safety award at the mill, which reported 500,000 reportable incident-free hours.