The massively successful food drive undertaken by the youth of É.s.c. Franco-Cité this Thanksgiving saw a haul of 15,000 pounds of food and $4,500 for the West Nipissing Food Bank. President Don Clendenning was awed by the enthusiasm shown by the kids.
At around 4 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 7, a fleet of vehicles, pick-up trucks and SUVs loaned by local families were parked and ready at the food bank on Nipissing Street. In front of the doors, a tent was set up for the collections, and a WN Fire Department truck lit up the night. The fleet went out on the streets to collect door-to-door and by 7:30 p.m. there was music and dancing and singing, kids unloaded and stacked bag after bag of food while people came by to make monetary donations. According to volunteer Terry Clendenning, the food bank inside was packed to the hilt.
The next morning, Friday, Oct. 8, Don Clendenning and his volunteers were back sorting. “The enthusiasm of the kids was amazing, so far 14,000 pounds! They weighed every single box and bag that came in. They set up a tent outside and they went to town! They had a party!”
Don calculated there were about 50 kids on site, plus all the youth who went out and collected. “The enthusiasm was contagious. …Several teachers and the principal were here. And the fire truck showed up because it was getting dark and they had the big emergency site light going… They were very well organized and did an excellent job.” He also noted that more donations were expected the next day as items were delivered to the school. “At one point it was so overwhelming there was not enough room, and people couldn’t move for the groceries on the floor. We filled up both back rooms, the kitchen in the back, the hallway on the side towards the gym, and the entire food bank floor. I had to call my friend Peter [Milligan] for his enclosed trailer, and that’s three-quarters full.”
Clendenning was still basking in the glow of all the good will, remarking, “The capacity of this town to give is incredible! Some people pulled stuff out of their gardens and put it in bags for us. Lots of fresh produce. Monetary donations; one of the teachers gave me an envelope of the monies collected from students and parents and it was well over $1200!… That enthusiasm; if they can carry that on to everything else they do, they’ve learned… We need to look at things and learn; subtle things… When these kids grow up and hear about a food bank, we will hope they give like they did here, and their parents did. It’s an ongoing thing.”