BROCKVILLE, ONT. -- The Brockville Rotary Harvest Sharing Campaign is winding down, with donations vital this time of year, to stock up local food bank shelves until the New Year.

"As we pull out of COVID, it's so important that we have this drive to get them through to the beginning of the year," said David Keenleyside, Rotary Harvest Sharing Campaign chair.

In 2020, the campaign raised over $80,000 in food and cash for the South Grenville and Brockville and Area Food Banks.

This year, the focus is on more cash donations, as the dollars can be stretched to buy more items

"We're finding out that it's just a great way to take advantage to the four to one purchasing power," Keenleyside said, his team sorting donations at the old LCBO location in the Brockville Shopping Centre.

"Somebody donating a single can of tomato soup, it's wonderful, but if you actually donate a dollar instead, we'll buy four cans of tomato soup," he added. "So let's use that multiplier effect to really fill the shelves of our food banks."

Six local schools also partnered with the Rotary Club for this year's drive, with Rotarians picking up non-perishable food on Friday morning.

"What wonderful partners they were, they collected food and made donations of cash. Wonderful, wonderful partners," Keenleyside said. "(We are) teaching them young about the importance of giving back to the community,"

"The children have been collecting food for the food drive all week," said Vanier Public School Principal Sarah Stone. "We only had a week to do it but they have exceeded our expectations."

"We had mounds and mounds of food, too much for the bins. We were overflowing this morning and the kids were so proud to bring it in," she added.

Brockville Rotary Harvest Sharing Campaign

"We were focusing on generosity as our character trait and what better way to show it this morning," Stone said.

"It makes me feel really good that they are giving food back to the community so the people that don't have lots of food they get to have food," said Grade 5 student Dakota Evans.

Hailie Jack, operations manager for the Brockville and Area Food Bank, says they are always looking for donations of cereals and snacks for children.

"With our purchasing power we buy a lot of our staples and healthy products and produce and with the food donations that's where we are getting our variety for our families so we can have different items," Jack said.

"One thing that has decreased is reclamation, which is broken items from grocery stores, and that's a result of the pandemic," she added. "So a major decrease in the variety of choices on what we can give our families."

Keenleyside said dry staples like pasta, flour and cereals are always needed, along with personal care items.

"Anything is welcome but those things are much in need. And peanut butter! Always peanut butter!" he said.

Brockville Rotary Harvest Sharing Campaign

Bruce Wylie of Move 104.9 was also pulling a 12-hour shift on Friday, with the two local radio stations holding its annual Food Bank Fill Up.

"Last year was an exceptional year, it was $40,000," Wylie said. "I am hoping we can get to 20 (thousand) this year."

As of 5 p.m. Friday, the team had passed that, bringing in more than $31,000.

"This year again, through COVID, talking to the food bank people, they are saying the amount of goods that they are getting is really down," Wylie added. "I think it's important for people to look beyond this weekend, they look from here to Christmas and whenever you can, at a grocery store drop something in because the shelves are going to be bare."

Three grocery stores in the city also teamed up for the harvest sharing campaign, including the Real Canadian Superstore, Giant Tiger and Food Basics.

Brockville

"They have been wonderful partners," said Keenleyside. "They are really focusing on their cash donations at their checkouts."

"Thanks to the community," said Wylie. "Community is what makes this possible, and the food banks aren't going away, poverty is here to stay."

Donations will still be accepted on Saturday at the Brockville Shopping Centre from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and they can also be sent through the Brockville Rotary website.