Door-to-door ef­fort shifts fo­cus to food bank do­na­tions

The Woolwich Observer - - NEWS - ALI WIL­SON

HAV­ING GROWN PAST TRICK-OR-TREAT­ING, suc­ces­sive groups of Elmira young peo­ple have spent Hal­loween night gath­er­ing non-per­ish­able food for the Food Bank of Water­loo Re­gion.

Start­ing from hum­ble be­gin­nings, Cit­i­zens Al­ways Need Sup­per, or CANS as most know it, is now in its 15th year.

The ini­tia­tive be­gan in 2003 when a cou­ple of 12-year-old Wood­side Bi­ble Fel­low­ship at­ten­dees de­cided to do some­thing a lit­tle dif­fer­ent with their Hal­loween evening, opt­ing to go door-to-door col­lect­ing food bank do­na­tions rather than candy.

Since that time, CANS has col­lected more than 30,000 lbs of food dur­ing its one-night drives.

Jaron Bow­man, mem­ber of Wood­side, is the cur­rent leader of CANS.

“It has been such a suc­cess. It is a lot of fun to get peo­ple to­gether,” he said. “Ev­ery­body who vol­un­teers has a blast. They go around with their friends and it’s kind of like re­mem­ber­ing old times, trick-or-treat­ing, go­ing around from house to house and just do­ing some­thing good for the com­mu­nity. It is just a great way to get peo­ple to­gether and the com­mu­nity.”

The Grade 12 stu­dent from Elmira District Sec­ondary School has been with CANS for four years now.

“When I was in Grade 9, a Grade 12 named Will Allen passed to me how to run it, and now next year I will train some­one else how to,” he ex­plained of his in­volve­ment with the group. “Some­body will run it un­til they get to their Grade 12 year and then the next year they will train a Grade 9 and help him learn how to run it. Then they will carry it on for an­other four years, and so on.”

Bow­man ex­plained that al­though it is fa­cil­i­tated at Wood­side, they en­cour­age any­one who would like to help to come out.

“It has just grown. It’s run by peo­ple from Wood­side, but it is open to any youth in and around the area to come and help out,” he said. “There is no sign-up re­quired or any­thing. On Tues­day night, Hal­loween, they just have to show up at Wood­side Bi­ble Fel­low­ship at around 6 p.m. We have a lit­tle pep rally and cos­tume party hap­pen­ing be­fore­hand, and then we will get groups out into the streets around 6:30 p.m.”

Af­ter 15 years, the group has the process down into a well-oiled ma­chine.

“We get routes for dif­fer­ent groups to com­plete so that we can cover ev­ery house in Elmira,” he said. “In the past few years we have col­lected around 3,500 to 4,000 lbs of food.”

Bow­man says they will take any­thing canned or non-per­ish­able. Cur­rently the Food Bank of Water­loo Re­gion’s most needed items are canned meat and fish, canned pasta, canned soup, tomato sauces, canned stews and chili, canned fruit, dried beans, beans in sauce, rice, hot ce­re­als and baby for­mula.

[ALI WIL­SON / THE OB­SERVER]

Jaron Bow­man will be lead­ing the lo­cal CANS ini­tia­tive this Hal­loween, that will see some 50-60 youth from the com­mu­nity col­lect­ing non-per­ish­able items for the food bank.

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