A brain aneurysm severely limited Leona David’s life but not her commitment to help others.
While she may just be one of hundreds of volunteers who assist with the annual B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive, her willingness to help in any way she can is strictly a personal one.
Each year in Penticton, Summerland, Kaleden and Okanagan Falls, volunteers drop off over 12,000 shopping bags at residences to collect non-perishable items for the Salvation Army Food Bank, an organization David has had a longstanding history with.
“I have received gifts from the food bank,” said the former care aid who was forced to leave her job after suffering the aneurysm. “When I was a little girl my dad wound up in the hospital and the Salvation Army supported my mom and us five kids. In 1998, I was a single mom and the Salvation Army helped me then.
“I had a great job, but now I can’t cook and I can’t drive. I can help with the food drive. It feels so good to do something for somebody else, especially going from where I was to where I am now.”
Speaking from personal experience, according to David, for a mom not being able to feed her children is the “worst thing in the world.”
She still uses the services of the food bank out of necessity but tries to limit her visits knowing how great the need is.
Dr. Jonathan Sevy is organizing the drive, a province-wide initiative, again this year and estimated in 2016 4.5 tonnes of food was donated.
About volunteers like David he said: “We invite recipients to come and help out. This is something that builds the recipients and that builds our whole community and that’s what it’s all about.”
Marketplace IGA provides the bags and volunteers at local retirement centres tape the B.C. Thanksgiving Food Drive brochures to them.
“They’re (residents) just so happy to see me come back again. It really is a lot of fun and one of the most fun parts for me,” said Sevy.
Volunteers will take the bags to homes and apartments in the four communities Sept. 12-14 with pickup on Sept. 16.
“We hope to exceed last year in every respect, all for our communities’ benefit,” said Sevy about the program which began locally in 2011.
“When they made me chair of the steering committee I saw there were two mandates, get a lot of food and feed the hungry and build partnerships in the community among good people.
“I just resonate with both of them, it’s nice to know who the good people in the community are when times are good, that’s really nice but if times get bad, it’s important, it’s crucial to know who good people are and there are a lot of good people in our communities.”
While family services manager John Rankin of the Salvation Army was unable to put a figure on just exactly how many people the tonnes of food will help he noted it would be considerable.
“It will have a significant impact, that’s for sure,” said Rankin. “There is a greater need all the time, we have 20 new clients every month, some are single, some are families and it’s people of all ages.
“We give out about 500 hampers a month so we have several hundred clients and this will go a long ways. People are so thankful and the communities’ generosity is much appreciated.”
It’s estimated last year’s food drive collected three quarters of a pound of food per flyer from the estimated 10,000 homes and 1,000 apartments where they were dropped off.
Those who receive the bags are asked to fill them with non-perishable items and leave them on the doorstep before 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 16.
Those wishing to volunteer in any capacity can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org or text Nicholas at 250-328-4070.