© Nathan Liewicki
Brothers Séamus and Kingston Jones (left to right) help out at the eighth annual Better Together Food Drive on Thursday evening. They were two of more than 400 volunteers who helped collect, sort and box food items destined for the Moose Jaw and District Food Bank.
Like ants on an anthill, volunteers with bags and trays of food scurried around one another at a feverish pace Thursday evening.
“Everybody is like ants in here going from station to station,” said Cornerstone Christian School teacher Brett Young. “It is organized chaos.”
Volunteering for the sixth time at the Better Together Food Drive, Young brought a group of Grade 10 students from his school to the Moose Jaw Exhibition Company on Thursday morning to help set up for the big drive. Most of them returned later in the evening to help sort through the mounds of food that was donated to the Moose Jaw and District Food Bank.
“It’s so not about them. It’s about others who they are helping,” noted Young. “They could be at home playing video games, but they (were) here helping support the food bank.
“There (were) kids here who gave up their Halloween night to come help out. They have inspired me.”
Young and his students were among 400-plus volunteers who helped in some capacity with the eighth annual food drive.
Groups of volunteers did some door-to-door knocking of their own on Halloween night, collecting food, while others sorted and boxed the thousands of pounds of the items that were collected.
Among the smaller volunteers was three-year-old Kingston Jones, who helped his older brother Séamus, 11, with a pile of canned goods. The brothers were experiencing the rush of volunteering at the event for the first time.
Asked what his favourite part of the night was, Séamus told the Times-Herald: “that you get to help people.”
He hopes to be back next year sorting through more cans and carrying more bags of non-perishable food items.
As for the total poundage of food collected on Thursday, looking around the room co-coordinator Cam Lewis felt confident they would eclipse the 56,200 lbs. of food that was collected in 2012. On Friday it was announced that 58,500 lbs. of food had been collected.
“We (were) in a different building this year so it’s difficult to gauge exactly how much was collected,” said Lewis. “The piles this year (were) a lot different looking than in years past.”
After seven years at the Hillcrest Apostolic Church, this was the first year the food drive was held at the Exhibition Company.
“There is more elbow movement this year, but then it keeps growing every year,” said Young, who needed that space to clean up a jar of ragù that left a mess on the floor.
Since the campaign started in 2006, more than 320,000 lbs. of food has been donated by Moose Javians – a total that seems to increase annually.
“In doing this it has been an incredible eye-opener to me on how generous the people and businesses are in Moose Jaw,” said Karen MacNaughton, the other co-coordinator of the food drive. “The spirit of generosity is huge. It's just an amazing, overwhelming sense of generosity.”
Nathan Liewicki can be reached at 306-691-1256 or follow him on Twitter @liewicks