Thanks to the overwhelming generosity of a number of local businesses and individuals along with a legion of volunteers, Christmas promises to be very merry for the less-fortunate in Rimbey and the surrounding area this year.
With the shelves packed with groceries and a plethora of gifts for children and adults ready to be picked up or delivered, it’s been another successful year for the Rimbey Food Bank.
“We had lots of volunteers joining us – 20 to 30 volunteers twice a week, so they’re putting in lots of time and effort, so we’re getting a lot of food packed up and getting our hampers ready,” said food bank Manager Heather Torris. “The donations have been awesome. We’ve had lots of participation from all the schools with kids giving us a hand by lifting up the heavier boxes and helping out whenever they can, so that’s been really neat too.”
She estimated that approximately 70 hampers will be distributed to the less-fortunate this Christmas, which was greatly enhanced last Wednesday afternoon thanks to a donation in the amount of $5,000 from one of the community’s most generous corporate donators.
“We got a really generous donation from ConocoPhillips and we’d just like to extend our appreciation to them for that,” Torris said. “It’ll take us a long way into the new year and will help us out with groceries that we’ll be able to give out to people throughout 2009, so it’s very much appreciated.”
With that extra boost to the bottom line, she said they’ve pretty well covered all the bases however there are a few more specific items they’d like to see donated.
“We’ve pretty well got everything covered. I think we’re looking really good. Everyone here is very positive and it’s a very exciting and busy time,” Torris said. “I think we’re right on track as far as the things we need. We have a few more items that we’re asking for so if people want to get them into our donation boxes located at various places throughout the town and drop them off.”
In particular, those items include gifts for teenaged boys and girls from 12 years of age and up along with more gloves, mitts and scarves for children from eight to 12 years.
Aside from that, Torris said the food bank is already looking down the road because while Christmas comes but once a year, people need to eat every day.
“We never have too much of anything. We’ve got a whole year ahead of us and we want to stretch it out,” she said.” It looks very full in there right now, but it won’t take long before we start seeing some holes again and it gets used up very quickly, so we never have too much of anything.”
With that, Torris said they are always looking for more, especially staples such as peanut butter, jam, macaroni dinners, sugar, cheese spread, puddings, canned fruit and vegetables as well as canned meats.
On average, she said each family will be receiving four boxes of food that contain all the necessities of a splendid Christmas dinner including a turkey and all the fixings as well as a few extras to make the day extra-special including a box of Mandarin oranges compliments of the Church of the Nazarene in Rimbey. Furthermore, clients will be allowed to select an item of two from a table of more-luxurious food products that may suite their specific tastes.
“All the clients that we’ve received phone calls from so far will hopefully have a special Christmas – that’s what we’re aiming for,” Torris said adding that all the children in a client’s family will also be receiving gifts as well as something special for the parents.
As for herself personally, Torris, who was hired as the new food bank manager just a few months ago, knew full-well that she’d have to hit the ground running and said it’s been a very rewarding experience.
“It’s been just awesome to see how the people come together. It’s been a lot of work and it’s been crazy with lots of details, but it’s been a real learning curve for me and very exciting,” she said. “I’m meeting lost of people I’ve never met before – actually, it’s been really challenging just to remember everybody’s names, but they’ve all been great to work with and it’s been a great experience so far.”
In closing, Torris also took time to acknowledge all those who contributed to the food bank since her time at her new position, and singled out two individuals specifically – FCSS Coordinator of Volunteers Moira Gates and FCSS Executive Director Peggy Makofka.
“These two ladies go way above and beyond the call of duty as far as making this happen. This certainly isn’t just me doing all this,” Torris said. “Also, without all our volunteers this wouldn’t happen either, so they should also be recognized for all the hours they’ve put in.”