Food Bank Drive, Celebrate Tillsonburg

Laurel Beechey, The World is a Stage TN

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Food insecurity is a new term that tries to take the stigma out of a bad situation, but all it means is that you and your family are hungry because there is not enough money to pay the rent and the bills and buy food.

You never dreamt you would ever be in this position. One day you were working, the next the company closed the door and you could not get another job. Hunger hurts.

Tillsonburg is very fortunate for we have the Helping Hands Food Bank on Broadway, and the volunteers there care more about the people they serve than you can imagine. After you get the paperwork done and tick off what foods you need, you might just find a little extra something like a cake that was donated in your basket. Not something you need, but something that puts a smile in your heart because someone cared enough to do it.

Right now however, there are quite a few empty shelves. Tillsonburg citizens can help by putting out items for the fall food bank drive at 10 a.m. on Oct. 5th, for there are 18 teams blitzing the whole town in one hour. You can tell the Helping Hand Food Bank vehicles by their red-and-white Helping Hand Food Drive sign which will be displayed.

But they don’t just hand out food on Wednesday afternoons. Besides all the work to organize their very efficient system, they also have programs that give food to children at schools. But what happens on weekend or the summer? Well, Helping Hand has also provided 70 child friendly ‘Backpack Bags’ a week in elementary schools, containing three days of food to take home for the weekends during the school year. Their After The Bell program provides a snack for children through the summer (when they have the funding), which includes puddings, juices, mac & cheese, fresh produce, etc. This summer they did approximately 200 bags.

They are now offering a Seniors Program to help housebound seniors – call and ask about it.

The whole community has been generous. Walmart has been very generous in surprising ways as have our grocery stores who see the benefit of not throwing out damaged packaging. Sobeys donates a case of bananas a week for the kids. Farmers and citizens drop off fresh produce they have grown in the summer.

Don’t forget that besides food people still need tooth paste, tooth brushes, tampons, pads, diapers, razor blades, depends, soap, shampoo, everything you have in your house you take for granted is needed.

I always knew they needed food, but never thought about Helping Hand paying rent, doing repairs and paying utilities. Right now, they need a new furnace and air-conditioning unit. Remember if they don’t have a building they can’t distribute the food. So perhaps a cheque or cash or gift card for money would be helpful.

Gift cards are also great for the milk, butter, fresh produce, meat, veggies, fruit, etc. they purchase every week. Last year they served 100-180 singles or families and are expecting more clients this year, due to job cuts. Brenda and Joan gave me a wonderful tour and great insight to not only the needs of our neighbours but the Food Bank itself. If you have questions, give them a call at 519-688-3434.

Tillsonburg really is quite the amazing town and you will be able see exactly why if you attend Celebrate Tillsonburg on Friday, Sept. 20, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at The Tillsonburg Town Centre mall. It is run by the Tillsonburg Resource Network, a group of 120 people and agencies that are concerned for the health and well-being of everyone in Tillsonburg, from a baby to a 120-year-old. They are community providers, helping people find the various health resources you need.

Or perhaps you are new to town and have no idea what there is to do. There is more than you can imagine and chances are that you will find exactly what you want. Come to Celebrate Tillsonburg, you will find the mall filled with booths for 40-50 service providers. This is not about jobs but instead various social service agencies, health services like Oxford County Community Health Centre, and SW Self-Management (living on your own). Also, agencies for education, minor sports, service clubs, churches, health and fitness. Theatre Tillsonburg, Station Arts Centre, Youth for Christ’s Upper Deck and Youth Unlimited, Salvation Army and Helping Hand Food Bank are their too! Maybe you need assistance. Maybe you would like to volunteer with one of the groups or maybe you’d like to help the Resource Network itself so this is you one shop stop! It is FREE! For more information call Jackie Alves at 519-474-5694 or