Saturday's door-to-door Food Bank Blitz begins at 10 a.m.

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Volunteers from the Helping Hand Food Bank in Tillsonburg will be going through town Saturday, Sept. 30 collecting food for the annual door-to-door Food Blitz.

Anyone in town who is able to donate food Saturday morning, please leave it in a spot visible from the sidewalk/street - in a bag or box - on your front step. Volunteers will begin picking up food at 10 a.m. sharp.

"The cars are going to be well marked," said Joan Clarkson, Helping Hand Food Bank coordinator. "I had new signs made that say 'HELPING HAND FOOD DRIVE' - two for each car... one on each side."

Most of the 16 cars will also have a Canadian flag on top, in addition to the signs.

"We will be starting at 10 a.m., not before. If anyone sees people picking up food before 10 a.m., call (519-688-3434). If anyone sees a vehicle that is not marked with 'Helping Hand Food Drive' signs, I don't know who they are, call..."

Volunteers are expected to be picking up food until about 11 a.m.

"They try to get to every area in town."

If your neighbourhood is missed, call the food bank and they will pick up your donation.

"I'm there are all day," Clarkson noted.

Most needed food items are: canned fish, meat and stews; peanut butter & jam; children's school snacks (nut free!); crackers, cookies; canned vegetables & fruit; spaghetti sauce, canned tomatoes; juice (boxes or cans); cereal; rice; mushroom soup (for casseroles) and chicken noodle soup; laundry soap and dish soap; and personal hygiene products.

"I need just about everything," said Clarkson, who noted with announced closures and recent layoffs, the need is still there.

"That's what we're here for, we're here to help people. My heart goes out to everybody struggling to purchase food... and the right types of food."

According to a recent report from Food Banks Canada, 45 per cent of people who use food banks are young single people, said Clarkson. People who who cannot get work, who are on unemployment, and who are on Ontario Works.

"And it's true because I know for a fact that we have a lot of young people who come here. There's just not enough money to pay for rent and buy food and to live, and it's getting more difficult all the time for young families. I think we're going to be well-used this winter."

Helping Hand Food Bank serves over 3,500 people each year, more than 40 per cent of them children.

And every year, as food prices rise, Clarkson wonders whether they will get enough to last through the winter. Every year, she said, the people of Tillsonburg deliver.

"This is Tillsonburg, and they are generous," she smiled. "I don't know why I fear that - I shouldn't fear that - people go out of there way to give."

In addition to Saturday's door-to-door Food Blitz and the annual fall food drive, the food bank receives generous donations throughout the year from local farmers and stores.

"We do have so many generous people who do help us out with fresh food - fresh meat and produce. And the stores are just remarkable. They reach out to us and say, 'what do we need?' It makes a big difference."

About 75 people are expected to volunteer for the Food Blitz Saturday, and they will be fed afterwards with pizza donated by Domino's.

"God bless them (Domino's). It's really great when you can give pizza to the kids - they love it and it just goes over really well. They did it last year, too, and it made a big difference. A lot of the volunteers stay afterwards and start sorting."



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