From left, Ward 1 Councillor Wayne Olson and Pelham Mayor Marvin Junkin are joined by Miss Petite Canada 2021, Sarah Vandervalk, accepting food donations at the community centre on Saturday, November 13, 2021. SUPPLIED

As Christmas nears, many turn their thoughts to charitable endeavours to assist those most in need in the community. And every year, Pelham Cares answers the call with its seasonal Food Drive. With skyrocketing food prices, more families are living paycheque to paycheque, and reply on food donations to make ends meet.

The “Fill Our Shelves” campaign by Pelham Cares is a collaborative effort with the Fonthill Lions, Fabulous Fenwick Lions, and Town of Pelham. The goal is to fill 3,000 boxes with food items, which should keep the agency’s shelves full for seven months. Monetary donations are also welcome, and can be made online or in person at the Pelham Cares office on Highway 20.

With pandemic restrictions still active, a drive-through food drop-off is in place again this year at the community centre, staffed by volunteers. Food donations will be received Fridays from noon until 7 PM on November 12, 19, and 26; Saturdays from 9 AM until 3 PM on November 13, 20, and 27; and Sundays from 9 AM until 3 PM on November 14, Nov 20, and Nov 28.

New this year are “pop-up” food drives on November 20 between 9 AM and 2 PM at the Food Basics and Sobeys on Highway 20, as well as at Centennial Park on Church Street in Fenwick.

Volunteers Susan Mark, Mayor Marvin Junkin, Pelham Councillor Wayne Olson, Bob Mark, Gerald Taylor, and Xiaoling Zhao. DON RICKERS

Some of the most needed items include hamburger helper and rice mixes, instant potatoes, chili and stews, canned fruit and vegetables, juice boxes, peanut-free school snacks, flaked ham and chicken, cookies and baking supplies, and laundry soap. Pelham Cares also accepts personal hygiene and household products such as unscented shampoo, body wash, toothpaste, and household cleaners.

Volunteers are still invited to assist with the food drive, and will be provided with masks and hand sanitizing stations at the community centre. Volunteers must be fully-vaccinated, and are asked to register with Pelham Cares for screening.

The Voice encountered Pelham Mayor Marvin Junkin and Councillor Wayne Olson at the community centre last Saturday morning, unloading food donations driven in by local residents. Olson is a veteran of countless food drives, and Junkin has also done his bit over the years helping out in charitable ventures.

“There is hidden poverty in Pelham,” said Olson, noting that about 60 families are on the list for regular food boxes from Pelham Cares. “It’s both rural and urban, and touches seniors and young families. There are some people that have $12 a day left in their pockets, after they pay the rent.”

For more information about the Pelham Cares food drive, call 905-892-5300 or visit www.pelhamcares.org