Elk Valley locals were braving the winter weather on Wednesday (Nov. 16) evening in Fernie to collect about 4,700 pounds worth of donations for the Salvation Army food bank.
According to Jennifer Robins, major with the Fernie Salvation Army (FSA), the event was their annual Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Food Drive.
Organization for the event was spearheaded by Sarah Hannath of the FSA along with Kent Nanninga and Wren Dirks of the Elk Valley EMS, and brought about 60 people together from ambulance services, fire services, Mountainside Community Church (MCC), the Rotary Club and the FSA to collect donations.
Four groups traversed to different sections of Fernie in the winter conditions from 5:30 to 8 p.m. to gather items left on doorsteps or to politely knock on doors and request donations.
Robins said they had excellent support in the cause from the participants, which aside from emergency service workers, Rotary Club and FSA volunteers, included about 40 students, parents and their leaders from the MCC youth group.
“The final tally was 4,700 pounds of food donated, which is amazing,” she said, adding they also brought in $500 worth of cash donations to buy food as needed.
As of Thursday morning (November 17), the FSA hall was full of boxes of items, ready to be organized and put back into the community. Robins said they would still be collecting donations for those who weren’t available Wednesday evening.
“The support continues,” she said.“We were very happy that people were so generous with their time, but also with their donations.”
Robins and her husband Rick have been the new majors in Fernie since July this year, coming from a previous Salvation Army mission in Saskatchewan.
Robins said the amount of need they have seen has increased quite a bit, even just since their arrival in the summer.
“The amount that we’ve received, we hoped it will last about three months or more. Hopefully more,” she said.
“There’s been quite a big influx of new clients. And lots of people that are working were just relieved to see that extra support, with the high cost of living.”
She said it’s a critical time of the year for the donations to have come in.
“We couldn’t do it without the support of the community.”
She also gave a special shout-out to Hannath, Nanninga and Dirks for their coordination efforts.
Robins said the FSA are grateful and overwhelmed in a great way with the response, saying it was really excellent.
“We’re looking into the winter months with a lot of positivity.”