Mother Nature supports food bank blitz

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It turns out Mother Nature is one of the supporters of the Helping Hand Food Bank's annual Food Blitz.

"I'd take this," said HHFB Coordinator Joan Clarkson, glancing somewhat nervously into a threatening sky around 10:18 a.m. Saturday. "They were promising thunder storms this morning."

One set had rolled through during the night, holding a share of grocery cart crew member Ken Locker's attention until roughly 4 a.m.

"I was watching the whole thing last night," said Locker. "Rain, thunder, lightning."

Enough pressure was being exerted by the food bank's comparatively bare cupboards, without additional stress of a good dousing on the annual food blitz, a two-hour event crucial to stores heading into the winter season.

"This is the day I try not to panic," said Clarkson. "We'll do fine… we'll do fine - lots of food, right?"

The logistics were in place for a successful day: 17 drivers for each of 17 designated zones in Tillsonburg, along with an average of a student helper or two each; vehicular unloaders waiting on the curb outside the food bank; and a cart crew to shuttle bags of foodstuffs to the unofficial war room in the back, for an energetic cadre of volunteers to pounce on for unloading and sorting.

"We are set," said 'war room' co-coordinator Dorothy James, preparing for the onslaught along with co-coordinator Mary Johnson.

"It's a fun day - but a busy day," added Johnson.

The Helping Hand Food Bank is "empty in so many things," said James, and in need of "just about anything and everything. There is definitely a big need."

The food bank is supplying a longer list of clients with greater need, said Clarkson. If someone comes in on the 15th of the month, for example, and won't be receiving additional funds until the 28th, "you can't give them three days of food."

Historically, the community has been generous said James, generosity extending to area farmers who are contributing fruits and vegetables.

"That's just amazing."

By the end of the blitz, Mother Nature had co-operated and the community exceeded even lofty pre-event hopes.

"It didn't rain, not even a drop," said a grateful Clarkson. "It turned out to be a wonderful day."

Donated food items began pouring into the food bank shortly after 10 a.m., a flow that continued uninterrupted for the duration.

"The bags were just loaded," said Clarkson.

Crews proved equal to the challenge, wrapping up initial sorting by around 2 p.m. on an 11,455 pound total, up over one ton from last year's 9,200-pound result.

The need will be ongoing, and anyone wishing to continue to contribute can do so Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at the food bank from 8-11 a.m.

But in the meantime, Clarkson concluded by expressing her gratitude for the community's generosity in the face of considerable need.

"Wonderful, wonderful people here. It was just amazing."




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