A record-breaking amount of food was delivered to the Abbotsford Food Bank and Christmas Bureau on Saturday.
The Fraser Valley Auto Mall Food Drive, held in partnership with Abbotsford Fire Rescue Service and Save-On-Foods, collected 8.5 tons of food – worth about $30,000.
Donations were collected at the eight auto mall dealerships, Automall Autobody, two Save-On-Foods locations in Abbotsford, through a door-to-door canvass by firefighters and through a donation from PriceSmart Foods.
The food was loaded onto a Save-On-Foods truck, and a convoy of vehicles, including the Abbotsford Police, accompanied the truck to the Abbotsford Food Bank on Saturday morning for the drop-off.
Dave Murray, executive director of the food bank, said it is the largest single donation that the organization has ever seen.
“It was quite something. It was really remarkable,” Murray said.
He said the contribution will help considerably in a year that has seen record numbers of people registering for support over the holiday season.
Murray said the Christmas Bureau had handed out food hampers and gifts to about 1,000 families as of Monday morning.
He said volunteers had prepared 100 more hampers than they did for last year’s holiday campaign, and there were none left heading into the busiest period – the week before Christmas.
But Murray said more will be prepared, using donations from the auto mall food drive, as well as from school food drives wrapping up this week.
The demand on toys and gifts has also been strong.
“Our toy stock is virtually depleted. We’re usually left with about a year’s supply, but we’re going to go into next Christmas (with empty shelves),” Murray said.
Gifts for pre-teens and teens are particularly needed, although Murray recommends that people designate cash for gifts because the food bank can make it go further. For example, he can buy gift cards in bulk and receive some for free.
Murray said his biggest concern is with the food bank’s fundraising goal. Funds from the weekend were still being tallied, but Murray estimated that the $600,000 goal hadn’t yet reached the halfway point.
“I’m concerned. It would be nice to be at about $100,000 more than we are,” he said.
Funds raised during the Christmas season support programs and services at the food bank all year long. To make a donation or for more information, visit abbotsfordchristmasbureau.org, call 604-859-5749 or visit 33914 Essendene Ave.
Meanwhile, the Salvation Army has set a $500,000 fundraising goal. Donations can be made at red kettles around town, online at careandshare.ca, by phone at 604-852-9305 or in person at 34081 Gladys Ave.
The Sally Ann also has its Angel Tree program at Sevenoaks Shopping Centre. The public is invited to take a child’s tag from the tree, purchase a gift and then return it unwrapped.