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Brockville and Area Food Bank looking for volunteers, specific items


After a successful holiday donation campaign, the Brockville and Area Food Bank is now looking for volunteers to help with day-to-day operations.

Volunteers like Valerie Harvey, who has been helping at the food bank since last April.

"I'm very fortunate and I love my community and this is a very good way to give back to the less fortunate," Harvey told CTV News Ottawa on Thursday.

"I've always supported this institution financially and I actually saw an advertisement where they were asking for actual volunteers to come into the facility," she said. "I spoke with my husband and my husband also comes with me and we volunteer here now."

Harvey is one of the 60 volunteers that help keep the non-profit running, and the facility is looking for five to 10 more volunteers to join the team.

"Without them, we would absolutely not operate," said executive director Hailie Jack. "The roles would consist in our warehouse and they would be sorting items, and possibly driving our truck and picking up donations in our community."

"We take people with little to no experience as long as you are over the age of 16 and you're willing to work and be part of a community that is very accepting and inclusive," Jack said, adding high schoolers who volunteer can use it towards their volunteer credits.

Valerie Harvey shorting food in the warehouse at the Brockville and Area Food Bank. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

Harvey says it is a welcoming atmosphere and she has worked in every aspect of the food bank.

"I've done home deliveries for people who aren't able to come into the facility, I've worked in the warehouse and primarily now I am out front filling the orders from the visitors that are coming and picking up their orders at the front door," she said.

Jack adds that they had great success over the holiday season with donations, but it has slowed in the past month.

Right now, they are in need of some specific items like pasta, pasta sauce, kids' snacks and hygiene products.

"Adult briefs and personal care hygiene products, shampoos and deodorants, household cleaners and then also ensure," Jack said. "It's one product that we get asked for a lot which is a meal replacement. They need them in their diets and it goes off our shelves faster than we can keep it here, and those are things people don't often think to donate to the food bank."

The Brockville and Area Food Bank is currently in short supply of several items. (Nate Vandermeer/CTV News Ottawa)

Jack says there has also been an increase in visitors to the food bank recently, including 1,400 people using the pantry during the month of December.

"In the month of January, I thought it was interesting, we have almost 60 new visitors which is almost double our regular number of new visitors coming on board," Jack said.

She says the ongoing pandemic and homeless situation in the area means more people are using the food bank.

"It's a, I think, a worldwide problem," Jack said. "Hunger and poverty, they come hand in hand often. We are seeing tough times when it comes to housing people and the housing market, rent. Working on those federal and provincial and municipal poverty reduction practices would be important."

"Making a systemic change to reduce poverty, until then food banks are grateful to be a solution to help people make their ends meet but we're not the end solution," Jack added.

"I think we're going to see people who have an increased need as we recover from this. Emotionally and financially there is going to be a quite a few years of recovery to come," she said.

For Harvey, she says working with other volunteers towards the same cause makes it feel like one big family, and it is not hard work.

"No, it's not, absolutely. You come in, you do the work, you have interaction with the other volunteers that are here, and we smile and we laugh and we talk to one another. It's certainly a pleasant place to provide, putting my time in, give back to the community," Harvey said.

"It is absolutely essential for the volunteers to be here," added Jack. "They come and give every single day and it's very heartwarming, so if you're volunteering here you're coming to a place with a lot of joy and love and it will enrich your life. It enriches mine."

Anyone looking to volunteer or donate is asked to call the Brockville & Area Food Bank at 613-342-0605. Top Stories

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