As in past years, the RCMP-sponsored Cram the Cruiser event, held Dec. 10, drew a welcome and warm response from the community.
It was also a significant event as it marked the 10th year now for a broad-based community response to assist those in need.
“Approximately 3,000 pounds of food was donated, which will stock the shelves in some categories for a couple of months,” said Lara Niessen, the Salvation Army’s community services director for the Bulkley Valley.
At the same time, more than $3,500 in cash and gift card donations were received.
“What stood out the most about this year’s event was definitely the community spirit,” said Niessen.
“We had live music, a burning barrel for warmth, and the beautiful feel of the community coming together to help support the food bank.”
Assisting in the event were the community’s other emergency services agencies and their participants.
That list includes the provincial ambulance service, the Houston Volunteer Fire Department, the RCMP’s victim services section and Houston Search and Rescue.
“Everyone here at the Salvation Army is so appreciative of the Houston community turning out and being so generous with their donations,” said Niessen.
“People were attracted to the lights [of the emergency services vehicles] and they’d come over. It was a really great positive feeling.”
Niessen said this year’s Cram the Cruiser donations are particularly welcome given the increase in the price of food that began earlier in the year.
“When the cost of food is rising, the sacrifice that people have shown to help others is well acknowledged,” Niessen added.
She singled out Buy Low Foods for its participation and donations of non-perishable foods during the day.
“They also had announcements asking people to donate and also sold gift cards,” Niessen said.
This Cram the Cruiser was Niessen’s first large-scale local event since joining the Salvation Army recently as its community services director for the Bulkley Valley, a responsibility that takes in the Houston, Smithers and Hazelton food banks, the thrift store and social services.
From the Fraser Valley, Niessen and her husband chose Houston as their new home in looking for a lifestyle change.
“I really love Houston,” she said. “The community is so welcoming and friendly.”