Six local businesses and organizations will be part of the Box Out Hunger Food Drive that Green for Life (GFL) Environmental will host before Christmas.
GFL will be joined by TS&M Supply, The Black Grasshopper, CIBC, Affinity Credit Union and the Southeast College for this year’s campaign, which started Monday and will continue until Dec. 15.
Businesses will encourage their employees to bring in donations of boxed, non-perishable food items for the Estevan Salvation Army’s Food Bank. Customers and clients are also encouraged to bring in food donations when they visit one of the participating businesses.
This year marks the second straight year that GFL has hosted a food drive. Last year it was a soup drive, and TS&M Supply was the winner.
Allison Dinsmore from GFL said they went to the Salvation Army to see what their need was this year. The ministry still had some soup from a year ago, so they shifted their attention to other items.
“It seemed like boxed items would be a good filler,” said Dinsmore.
“Shelves were a little empty of those things,” added Sarah Fitzpatrick, who is the finance manager for GFL in Estevan. “The list is about 20 items, and it looked to be the boxes were really what they were missing on the shelves, so Allison came up with a fun idea and a spin on it to do a boxing challenge.”
Suggested boxed items include crackers, granola bars, potatoes, stuffing, rice, pasta, Hamburger or Tuna Helper, cereal, tea, pancake mix, cake mixes and Jell-O.
“It’s a wide variety of food for them, plus a wide variety of price points for us,” said Fitzpatrick. The challenge is to see which business can collect not only the most food items, but also have the most creative tower of boxed foods. The towers will be judged by local celebrities on Dec. 16. Last year’s judges were the Salvation Army’s Ronza Reynard, who is now the director of ministry for Estevan and Weyburn, and Estevan Mayor Roy Ludwig.
“You don’t want to just do size, because somebody could be super creative, too,” said Dinsmore.
After last year’s competition, which TS&M won handily, Fitzpatrick said they wanted to grow the food drive and have more businesses involved.
“The college and both of the banks have a large group of staff and walk-in customers,” said Fitzpatrick.
When Fitzpatrick walked into TS&M last year, she could see the pride and the camaraderie of the staff, and how pleased they were with the support.
“That, to me, was the most exciting thing,” said Fitzpatrick.
Dinsmore added those entrants also have a large entryway to display food donations.
After last year, they vowed GFL will be upping their game to try to knock off TS&M while collecting as much food as possible.
“I’ve contacted a couple of the other locations for GFL, and just tried to get everyone I can involved,” said Dinsmore.
In last year’s competition, TS&M had support from other locations to collect the soup. The college has said they would draw on donations from their other campuses. Affinity Credit Union has people from their other branches in the southeast.
“Whoever wants to help grow the tower, if it’s members of the credit union or the CIBC, or for us, if it’s customers coming in,” said Dinsmore. “Primarily with us, it would be staff and family members of those staff.”
Fitzpatrick noted that even during the tough times in the southeast, businesses are always willing to step forward with support for the Salvation Army.