News

Port Colborne a giving community

By The Tribune

Shannon Airhardt and her daughter Amelia are among the hundreds of people who were sorting and packing non-perishable food items Saturday at Port Colborne’s Christian Life Assembly.

It was their first time volunteering for the annual Port Colborne-Wainfleet Lions Club Food Drive, held the first Saturday in November.

“My daughter is with the girl guides and I wanted to stay with her today and I wanted to donate my time,” said Airhardt.

She said she was impressed with the turnout at the church, on Barrick Road, and the amount of food coming into the hall.

“I didn’t expect it to be this much and be this busy.”

Airhardt said her daughter was enjoying herself and she was also surprised by how much food was being brought in by volunteers who fanned out across the city.

“It’s nice for her to learn to give back … it’s good to give back to the community,” she said.

Working across from Airhardt was Kelly Brewer, leader of 1st Port Colborne Girl Guides.

The two were sorting and packing up boxes with dry soup mix, Sidekicks, dry stuffing, rice, Rice-A-Roni, Hamburger Helper, Mr. Noodles and Tuna Helper.

“I’ve been the leader for the past four years and we’ve been volunteering here for four years,” said Brewer, adding the previous troop leader and girl guides also volunteered.

She said it is great to watch all the various volunteers — including firefighters, scouts, brownies, hockey teams — working together.

“It’s fantastic to see.”

Brewer said the amount of food coming into the hall was also great to see, especially due to the need.

“People need to be donating all of the time, they need to be helping out their fellow residents,” she said.

Christine Clark Lafleur, executive director of Port Cares, said the community support for the food drive is amazing.

“There’s so much positive energy here, so many people coming out to help so many in need,” said Lafleur. “It’s one of the best days of the year.”

All of the food collected in Port Colborne, between 13,600 and 18,150 kilograms on average each year, goes to Port Cares Reach Out Food Centre Bank.

Lafleur said it was incredible to watch all of the vehicles come to the church “full to the brim” with non-perishable items that residents had left at their doorsteps.

Before 11 a.m., she said, at least eight vehicles of varying size had already dropped off packed boxes at the food bank, at 61 Nickel St.

Lafleur said there were a number of initiatives for food drives this fall and people have been giving for the past two months.

“This food drive is certainly the largest and gets us through the winter months, I think we’ll be in great shape seeing what’s coming in,” she said.

Lions Club food drive organizer Jeremy Hamm said the people of Port Colborne are very giving.

“For the population of the town, the amount of food we pick up is amazing. The pounds per person far exceeds what other communities give,” said Hamm.

He said the hundreds of volunteers, from across Port Colborne, Wainfleet and Welland, showed up to help at the church and collect food from routes across the city.

“We have a lot of return volunteers.”

dajohnson@postmedia.com



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