Generous donations help Langley food banks support uptick in clients over holiday season

Volunteers at the Langley Food Bank have set-up distribution outside in the parking lot so clients can safely distance. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Black Press Media)Volunteers at the Langley Food Bank have set-up distribution outside in the parking lot so clients can safely distance. (Ryan Uytdewilligen/Black Press Media)
Nufloors Langley presented a $4,000 cheque to Leslie Clark from the Langley Food Bank. (Nick Kaplanis/Special to Langley Advance Times)Nufloors Langley presented a $4,000 cheque to Leslie Clark from the Langley Food Bank. (Nick Kaplanis/Special to Langley Advance Times)

Members of the community donated generously this holiday season to local food banks.

This was the sentiment shared by both Sources and the Langley Food Bank.

For the month of December the Langley Food Bank (5768 203rd St.) supported 29 new families, said Jim Calamunce executive director.

Since October he estimates their program has supported upwards of 110 local families.

“We’re still growing… this is definitely a lot more than what it would have been… but this is exponential,” Calamunce said, referring to the rise in the number of families accessing the food bank as a result of COVID-19.

But despite the uptick in those needing support during the holidays, Calamunce said the organization didn’t fall short thanks to members of the community who stepped up to help.

“I want to say thank you to everybody who gave,” he said.

In one instance, Calamunce recalls a 10-year-old boy who collected and then donated $200 and some groceries.

But the food bank was in need of far more financial support as it had hoped to purchase 450 turkeys and some chickens to prepare a holiday meal for local families.

And that financial support came in the form of a phone call from Stonehaus Realty.

“We aren’t having our Christmas party this year, so we’re going to give that money to you,” Calamunce retold about the conversation.

“So we’ll buy all the turkeys,” the firm told Calamunce.

The group then also offered to purchase 267 gifts so each child who is a client of the food bank had something to open on Christmas.

And two other groups provided 70 $20 gift cards.

Later, on a Sunday evening a group of volunteers went shopping at the Willowbrook Toys R Us after hours.

“They were so good to us,” Calamunce said about organizing the trip with the toy store.

“And we got 267 presents in like 55 minutes,” he laughed.

Calamunce was stunned by the community’s generosity, as were clients of the food bank.

“Oh, they [were] just so excited… and I’ll hear people say, ‘Are all those bags are for me?’” he recalled families asking when they picked up their items.

Now, with the holiday season behind them the Langley Food Bank doesn’t anticipate the need for their services to diminish.

“I anticipate the numbers will continue to go up as long as COVID is here,” Calamunce anticipated.

In an effort to keep volunteers and clients safe Calamunce purchased three tents and organizes distribution in the Langley Food Bank parking lot.

Volunteers also deliver to roughly 25 and 30 families each week.

All those on site are asked to wear a mask.

Calamunce said the food bank is always in need of “the constants” such as, toilet paper, sugar, fish or meat, pasta sauce or personal grooming basics like shampoo.

Meanwhile, program manager Jaye Murray said the Sources Food Bank (208 – 20445 62nd Ave.) was, for the first time, able to provide a full holiday menu to its clients.

“We were fortunate to receive a many generous donations this year,” she said. “I’m comfortable in saying that our Sources Langley Food Bank received more donations, both donations of food and monetary donations, this year than any year since being asked to open our doors over five years ago.”

But Sources has also experienced an increase in the number of families accessing services.

“More families have registered, while at the same time families and individuals are not coming on a weekly basis as before,” Murray said.

READ MORE: SOURCES Langley Food Bank plans to expand service

“We attribute this to COVID and the concern of standing in line and attending where there are many people, despite the safe distancing and other precautions taken.”

However, the group has started a Mobile Food Bank to provide support to those unable to access resources in-person due to health reasons.

“Hopefully, in the near future, we will be able to provide a depot in Aldergrove, which will be a huge support to those living in the Aldergrove area,” Murray said.

Sources is also happy to receive donations of the “basics,” which can include canned protein, rice, juice, fruit, or vegetables.

“Overall I think it went well,” she said. “We were able to provide support to all community members who needed our support in a safe controlled setting.”

For more information about accessing services or to support the local food banks visit sourcesbc.ca/our-services/sources-langley-food-bank, or langleyfoodbank.com.


@JotiGrewal_
joti.grewal@blackpress.ca

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