It’s that time of year when so many are feeling left out or in need. It’s a hard time of year for people when they feel like they can’t even meet their basic needs such as food let alone think about all the extras that we think about and take for granted at Christmastime. Many communities are doing their part in making sure the less fortunate get an extra dose of love this year.
Since 1991, Sue Stultz and her team have been collecting turkeys for Christmas that go to the Food Depot Alimentaire in Moncton which then distributes food to the food banks throughout Southeastern NB. They exceeded their goal this year again by collecting 4292 turkeys! You can read about the history of the drive and updates on their website here. The Albert County Food Bank is one of our local organizations that benefits from the turkey drive. For the last 30 years, food boxes have been put together and hand delivered by local drivers, Lions Club and Kiwanis members, local firefighters and others. Debbie Flewelling has been the coordinator of the Albert County Christmas Aid project for the last number of years. I had a chance to speak to her about the history of the project and what it entails. The project started when pastors in Riverview received requests for families in need at Christmas and the project was initiated. With help of donations from local churches, businesses, Lions and Lioness clubs, private sponsors and from the Albert County Action Committee an action plan is put into place when the Aid Committee gets together the 1st of November. Phone lines open for 2-3 weeks for people to register for a box. It serves all of Albert County from Alma to the Salisbury town line and Elgin. In the past they have served up to 350 boxes.
My dad Robert Killam took over as Delivery coordinator for the Albert County Christmas Food Aid after his friend and colleague Jim Grant passed away. Jim had done this job for 15 years and this is Dad’s third year to do it. He has a talent and appreciation for details so he is perfect for this job. He has spent about 6 weeks leading up to the drive coordinating the number of boxes needed along with ~10 other members who man the phones, crunch the numbers,make the grocery lists, organize the routes and drivers needed to get all the boxes delivered. This year they have ~ 225 boxes requested for families in Albert County. My Mom and his friend Bernie Alcorn help him by making sure they have the right street name assigned to the right route. They have had some fun trying to find some of those roads in Albert County! It might be a challenge even for some who have always lived in Albert County :). Heather Cail the Public Works Superintendent from Riverside -Albert, whose mom Eunice Cail was the administrator at the Riverside-Albert Hospital for many years and saw the need to expand the box delivery to the Riverside-Albert area, helps bring ~ 40-50 boxes back to Riverside-Albert and another bunch of boxes are delivered to Hillsborough to be picked up but boxes are distributed throughout all Albert County via the other drivers mentioned above.
It takes ~70 volunteers to make this a successful event. They started this week with food being delivered on site and then they were boxed up on Thursday with 40-50 of those volunteers helping to get it done from school aged kids all the way to the retired and beyond. The big drive takes place this morning from the Dan Bohan Centre in Riverview. They will start around 7:30 am with drivers picking up their boxes and making their way through the streets of Albert County. Some drivers will even come back multiple times to pick up boxes and deliver them. Debbie reports there is enough food in the boxes for a full Christmas dinner and many other items enough to last the rest of the week for other meals. Here are some photos Eric Bell took for us on Thursday showing all the boxes being packed up as I couldn’t get over their during work hours to check them out. Eric also helped organize this event for many years and was a colleague of my dad’s at the Air Traffic Control Centre in Riverview. Well done everyone and good luck today as you head out and spread some love and generosity to our fellow neighbours this Christmas!