Last year, more than 260 students helped out to collect over 29,000 pounds of food for the Inn of the Good Shepherd. This year, the committee put in charge of organizing the food drive said a turnout of over 300 students is expected to pitch in this year.
“This food drive is Sarnia’s biggest and the food collected every year is critical to the food bank,” said Inn executive director Myles Vanni.
Mayor Mike Bradley said the need for aid is growing every year and added recent provincial budget cuts to those on social assistance and disability pensions will only make matters worse.
“Earlier this week the provincial government announced that they would be freezing welfare benefits and benefits to those on disability,” and added, “These benefits have been frozen while there’s 3% inflation, hydro has went up 8 or 9 percent, and unfortunately the result will be more people being pushed into needing the services of the Inn,” said Bradley.
Bradley believes that these problems shouldn’t exist in such an affluent province and nation.
Bradley added, “The gap between people who are winning and those who are on the wrong side through often through no circumstances that they can control continues to grow.”
Vanni echoed Bradley’s remarks saying that the budget cuts along with the closures of local employment staples NCO, Hiawatha Slots, and the Sarnia jail will take a huge toll on the community and could easily result in up to 1,000 job losses over the next six or eight months.
“That’s pretty scary when we look at the potential impact of these job losses in the community,” said Vanni.
He added that donations received through Cyclone Aid will, with other regular donations, ease the need well into the summer and is important for laying the foundation for the next few months.
Students will head out at 8:30 a.m. Saturday to canvass homes in Point Edward, Sarnia north of Highway 402, and Bright’s Grove east to Mandaumin Road.
Non-perishable donations can be left on front porches.
Vanni was optimistic that the food drive will meet its goal of 30,000 pounds of non-perishables this weekend saying, “Where else can you find 300 young people willing to give their Saturday to go door to door to help people in their community,” then added, “That a pretty significant impact and a pretty significant statement from our young people.”