Record-setting mountain climbing in Smiths FallsPosted Nov 29, 2012 By Laurie Weir
EMC News - There are people going hungry in our neighbourhoods. Just ask the dozens of volunteers who are helping to build a mountain of food this holiday season.
"We hear their stories... every day we're out there collecting, we're hearing from people who are going hungry, or who have had to use a food bank between paycheques," said Hugh Colton, who has helped organize the hugely successful campaign, Build a Mountain of Food.
Monday, Colton had some record numbers to share as the Smiths Falls community shattered last year's totals - by thousands of pounds of food and cash donations.
"We collected 32,008 pounds of food," Colton said... heavy on the 'thousand'. "And $3,336.25 in monetary donations."
Grocery stores had their friendly competition with 5,000 pounds of non-perishables coming in from National Grocer, 3,200 pounds from the Garden Market and Andress Your Independent Grocer coming in with "an amazing" 10,000 pounds.
Lannin's Funeral Home dropped off a donation of 1,025 pounds of food, and Amy Himmelman of Little Rock Farm donated 1,000 pounds of food for the drive. The Hub at the Gallipeau Centre dropped off another 300 pounds.
With three weeks to go in the six-week campaign, already they have smashed last year's total of 50,000 pounds of food donated.
"We have collected 61,934 pounds of food so far this year and $10,293.16 in cash donations. I can't even begin to say what that means."
Colton says he gets emotional when he sees the empty shelves of the local food banks. It's overwhelming when he sees those same shelves begin to fill up when unloading the tons of food collected during this campaign.
"We don't have a warehouse, so when we are finished in one community, we roll into the food bank and start unloading," he said. "It brings tears to my eyes."
He started this campaign six years ago with one food bank in Perth. It has grown to include 11 communities with Westport and Elgin on tap this weekend (then it's back to Perth Saturday evening for the Santa Claus parade), Portland and Merrickville Dec. 8 and wraps up in Athens and Delta on Dec. 15.
"I love food... I love to eat," Colton said. "To hear stories where kids in these communities are not eating for four days - and that's no b.s. - it makes me (angry)..."
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