Airdrie Food Bank’s (AFB) shelves are stocked slightly fuller thanks to the charitable efforts of hundreds of students from St. Veronica School.
According to Carolyn Geertsen, volunteer co-ordinator with AFB, St. Veronica School donated approximately 1,800 pounds of food in early November as part of a school-wide food drive.
“I want them to know how grateful we are for giving us a definite boost on our shelves and for helping us feed people in the community,” she said. “There are a lot of people out there who are struggling and I know as a staff member, I feel truly blessed I can extend the good work of our community out to those who need it the most right now.”
Patrick Quinn, principal at St. Veronica School, said a food drive in October is becoming an annual tradition for the Morningside Catholic school, which opened its doors in September 2019.
“October is a month that leads into colder weather and we assumed the food bank would need a hand,” he said. “The other part of it is that it’s Thanksgiving. It’s a time when we work hard with the kids, reflecting on what we’re truly thankful for. We highlighted that this is a unique year – families are struggling and might not have all the things we’re thankful for.”
The school donated a total of 1,947 food items, which Quinn said works out to nearly five items per student. He added the financial difficulties the pandemic has imposed on many families this year was a key motivation.
“The food that came in just kept coming and coming,” he said. “We had to keep getting more and more boxes. We filled one, then another and another. Everyone seemed really happy and wanted to help – they were aware of the need of the food bank and the needs of other families who have been impacted by the pandemic.”
Another reason for the impressive response, according to Quinn, was some friendly inter-classroom competition to see which homeroom would come up with the most donations. He said every homeroom took part in the good-spirited contest.
“As soon as you make it a competition, that helps for sure,” he said. “People hear a rumour about one child bringing in 42 items and they think, ‘What?’ They go back to their class and get them all stirred up and tell them to bring in more food.”
Quinn said the homeroom with the most donations contributed 201 food items, while the runner-up donated 192 and the third-place classroom donated 190.
According to Geertsen, the donation from St. Veronica School will be a big boost for the food bank, which has experienced increased demand for its services since the onset of the pandemic. Considering the holiday season is AFB’s busiest time of the year, she said the timing of the school’s food drive was ideal.
“With us getting into the holiday season, it’s always been busy for us, but we’re anticipating this is going to be the busiest, just due to what’s happening with COVID – people not getting the hours or still not being back at work,” she said.
“Right now, we’re purchasing more food than we’ve ever done before. Receiving support from youth is really encouraging. I think it’s important they’re reaching out to others who are struggling with food support.”
For a list of food and other items AFB is in need of right now, visit airdriefoodbank.com