As Waterloo Region prepares for the onslaught of costumed kiddies roaming the streets looking for candies Monday night, some locals hope that this time of year also reminds people of those who are less fortunate in the community and are in need of food.
For the last nine years in Elmira, Halloween has been bringing two groups of visitors to people’s doors:excited kids trick-or-treating and young people too old to dress up who are looking to make a difference.
Those youths are a part of the CANS project (Citizens Always Need Supper). The volunteers travel through the town in groups of four or five collecting donations for the Food Bank of Waterloo Region every Halloween.
This food drive has grown immensely since it started back in 2002, with well over 100 participants taking part in last year’s drive.
Originally the contributions were brought to the Woolwich Community Services (WCS) but the donations of food increased to the point that WCS could not store it all, so the group decided to offer their collections directly to the main food bank.
At first some residents were suspicious of the group in the early years of the program, but most know who they are when come to the door, said Ben Konig, who has taken over as organizer from founder Colton Bauman since he finished school.
“We still have to explain sometimes what and why we are collecting food and for the most part people help us out,” said Konig. “The program has been running long enough that some people are waiting for us with food when we get to their door.”
This year trick-or-treaters can give back when they visit the cul-de-sac on Sunset Place, where EDSS drama teacher, DJ Carroll transforms his home into a haunted house: donations or canned food for the food bank are being accepted.
“I enjoy making the most out of Halloween and I figure we as a community can always give back to those less fortunate than us,” said Carroll.
Along with the Halloween food drives, the Region of Waterloo Public Library just completed its annual
Food for Fines program at local branches.
“It’s a great way for us to contribute back to the community,” said Sheryl Tilley, supervisor the Woolwich Township branches.
A donation of one non-perishable food item erased up to $2 in overdue book fines at the library.
“We all live busy lives and there is a lot going on in our community and this is a great way for those who can help to help,” said Tilley.
Last year the Elmira library collected 385 items of food and waived more than $770 in fines. This year the food drive produced 289 items with close to $580 in fines erased from the books. Although the amount was down from last year the library is still positive the food drive is making a difference. All the food collected at the Elmira branch will go to the local food bank at WCS.
“This started as a one day event 20 years ago,” said Bette Cummings, librarian at the Elmira branch. “It is great to see the community get behind it like this.”
This year students at EDSS were bombarded with the infamous You Tube song “Friday” by Rebecca Black before and after school and during lunch breaks and classroom changes. The idea was for students to bring in 1,500 cans of food to make the song stop playing.
Everyone including teachers were helping out with the cause as the song continued to play for three days.
“We stopped playing the song because the momentum of the food drive had taken off and we did not want to associate the aggrievement of the music with the goodwill of giving,” said Mary Anne Richer, principal at EDSS. “We made announcements everyday and reminded the students that the song may be annoying
but imagine what it is like to go hungry everyday.”
The school surpassed its goal of 1,500 food items and will be distributing the donations between the WCS and the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.