The Salvation Army donation kettles will be brought out five months early as Chilliwack celebrates Christmas in July.
Volunteers and red kettles will be perched outside all major grocery and liquor stores on July 22 and 23 in Chilliwack and Sardis to help the local food bank combat the summer meal gap.
“We’ll see a 25 per cent increase of families coming to our food bank through the summer months,” food bank manager Don Armstrong said.
The primary cause of that increase is the fact that most school breakfast and lunch programs don’t continue once classes wrap up.
Chilliwack Bowls of Hope has been operating their Feed the Children program since 2005, providing soup and other hot lunch to upwards of 650 children from 18 Chilliwack schools every school day of the year.
The Starfish Backback program, instituted in three Chilliwack elementary schools last year, sends children home with a backpack full of food on Fridays to feed their families over the weekend. They currently feed 80 kids and are fundraising to support many more.
These programs and others like them fill a substantial need through the school year. But the need for nourishment doesn’t diminish over the summer.
“So guess where all the people are coming. They’re coming to us,” Armstrong explained. He says the food back “really got hit” last year, and he’s already seeing the increase in demand this summer.
Similar to the food drive that Sardis Elementary hosted in June, the food bank is hoping to garner further community support during this time of need.
They’re pushing for a financial boost by hosting a Christmas in July fundraiser next weekend. With every $1 donated to the food bank, they can purchase $3 worth of food.
Close to 918,000 men, women and children in Canada will face food insecurity this summer. Although July is not known as the season of giving, donations to the food bank will help parents feed their families, in turn allowing their kids to enjoy the summer they deserve.
Armstrong says the fundraising goal for the two-day event is $10,000. Last July they were able to raise close to $9,000.
Keep an eye out for Christmas in July Salvation Army kettles in front of grocery and liquor stores on Friday, July 22 and Saturday, July 23. Those who wish to volunteer in two-hour shifts can email Don at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Food and financial donations can also be made to the Chilliwack Care and Share Centre (45746 Yale Road).