Organizers Dawn Taylor and Steve Bali (right) check out the food bank shelves with the Salvation Army’s David MacBain and Phil Franco in preparation for the 34th annual Realtors’ Food Drive in Greater Vernon

Organizers Dawn Taylor and Steve Bali (right) check out the food bank shelves with the Salvation Army’s David MacBain and Phil Franco in preparation for the 34th annual Realtors’ Food Drive in Greater Vernon

Realtors are ready to fill shelves

North Okanagan residents can embrace the Christmas spirit by just opening their door.

North Okanagan residents can embrace the Christmas spirit by just opening their door.

The 34th annual Realtors’ Food Drive takes place Wednesday in Greater Vernon, Armstrong, Enderby and Lumby starting at 5 p.m.

“We are very fortunate with the support of the community,” said Dawn Taylor, food drive co-ordinator.

Realtors will be going door-to-door in neighbourhoods and collecting donations of non-perishable food items for the local food banks.

Other groups will also be providing assistance including financial institutions, individual families and the North Okanagan Child Care Society.

Residents are asked to turn their outside lights on and place their bag of food on the front step for collection.

The annual food drive has become a much anticipated tradition for the participants.

“We have a commitment to our community and we like to make it a better place for everyone,” said Taylor.

The donations help the food banks with Christmas hampers and fill the shelves well into the new year.

“We are excited about the support the realtors and their friends bring to the food bank,” said David MacBain, community ministries director for the Salvation Army food bank in Vernon.

It’s anticipated that 825 Christmas hampers could be distributed this year.

“Since the recession began in 2008, our numbers have climbed. We’re at record numbers,” said MacBain of clients.

“Some are working, some are on social assistance and others are on disability. We want to help.”

Between 2008 and 2011, the number of people using the Vernon food bank climbed 87 per cent.

In March 2008, the local agency assisted 600 people while that climbed to 1,100 in March 2011.

Among the food items being sought during the Realtors’ Food Drive are rice, pasta, canned meat and fish, canned fruit and vegetables, tomato products, beans, flour, sugar, cereal, peanut butter, jam, oatmeal and canned or powdered milk.

If homes are missed during the food drive, residents can call their local real estate office and someone will pick up their donation.