Things are "looking awesome" at the Riceville Food Bank just four days after food was trampled, stolen and spoiled during an overnight break-in, says volunteer Bradley Marley.

The tiny building in Plantagenet, Ont. -- about 65 kilometres east of Ottawa -- is now filled to the brim with bread, meats, milk and other items for needy families. It's enough to hand out food for the next month and a half.

"It's all because of the people of Ottawa and greater Ottawa, surrounding areas," says Marley, a volunteer with the church-run food bank for two years.

"We didn't expect the response that we received . . . it's been amazing to go from almost 100 per cent devastation to running at 110 or 120 per cent."

'Absolutely trampled'

Marley was awoken early Thursday morning from a phone call informing him that food was stolen from the place where he has spent countless hours connecting with the less fortunate in the community.

He rushed over there, he says, to find a scene of devastation in front of him.

"There was food all over the yard. The doors were broken. Boxes and boxes of bread that we had just picked up at the food bank in Ottawa were absolutely trampled," he recalls.

Someone had broken in through the wooden door and taken away freshly prepared boxes for 20 needy families. What was worse, he says, was there was no way to replenish them.

"There were freezers left open, and there was food smashed open all over the place. It was a complete ransack; an absolute disaster. It was almost like somebody had set off a bomb in there."

Community comeback

As Ontario Provincial Police arrived to investigate the break-in -- they're still figuring out what happened -- food bank volunteers arrived to clean up the mess, and put out a call for help through door-to-door solicitations and appeals in the local news.

The story ran in several media outlets, including CTV Ottawa.

The response in food and in money overwhelmed the small group. Cheques came to the door through the mail and also in person, says Marley. They're still tallying the funds, but there's now enough money to fortify the food bank with a steel door and a burglary system.

"We're only a small denomination, and it's hard for us to stay above. To have everybody send this money out was absolutely amazing, to prevent this in the future."

A special thank-you

In thanks, the volunteers sent a picture to CTV showing them sporting Santa hats, gathered in front of a bookshelf bursting with cereal, canned goods and paper towels.

Several people held a sign in front of them that reads, 'We made it. Thank you everyone. God bless.'

"The sign was made from a chunk of the door that was kicked in and that will be remaining in our food bank," adds Marley, "hanging on the wall."

To make a donation, contact Reverend Manard Chant at 1-613-673-3350 or 1-613-298-6400. You can also drop off food and money at 740 Station St. in Plantagenet.