With the local food bank struggling to meet the growing need, local sawmills Canfor and Houston Forest Products are having a Christmas food hamper challenge over the next few weeks.
The Canfor Health and Wellness Committee, a committee that started this year to support Canfor employees in healthy living, challenged HFP earlier this month on who could collect the most nonperishable food for the Food Bank from Nov. 16 to 30, said Alex Walsh, Houston Canfor safety designate.
“Christmas is always is a particular time of struggle for low income families that are accessing the food bank so we thought ‘wouldn’t it be great if there was just an excess and abundance of stuff that they could have through our efforts?’” said Walsh.
But an abundance may be somewhat unlikely given the struggles of the Salvation Army to make ends meet this year.
Salvation Army Director Rick Apperson says that last year the Salvation Army gave out $26,000 worth of food in the first nine months; this year they’ve given $45,000 worth – a 70% increase.
Apperson says it’s partially because of people moving in and partially because many who have never accessed the services before are being forced to go to the food bank because of the economy.
He expects this holiday season to be tough for the Salvation Army, he said, adding that every bit of food will help.
Thankfully, Canfor and HFP, among others, are rising to try meet the need during this holiday season.
Having raised $31,120.70 in a United Way Campaign this October, Walsh says he is amazed by the continuing generosity of Canfor employees, who have already started filling the food hampers around the mill.
Lori Saretsky, HFP Safety Coordinator says they were eager to join the challenge with Canfor, and have actually started a challenge within the challenge, with the sawmill and the planer and the administration departments all competing for who can collect the most and promising a sweet treat for the winner.
With the Canfor and HFP competitions – winner determined Dec. 3 – and the usual Christmas hamper donations, the food bank will hopefully be able to meet the increased need.
As Apperson said, every bit of food helps.
Anyone else willing to donate can drop off nonperishable food items at the Salvation Army Thrift Store between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday to Friday.