The CPKC Holiday Train is an annual treat that families across Canada look forward to each year. The traveling show is not only unique in its staging and performances, but also for the gifts brought to each community while on tour. This initiative, started in 1999, has raised more than $22.5 million and more than 5 million pounds of food since its inception, and will be making its next visit to Weyburn on December 17th. The event will bring a free performance by Dallas Smith and Mackenzie Porter for all to enjoy, while the Salvation Army collects additional donations from those in attendance. While it is an important night for the Food Bank, and a busy one, Nicole Strickland says that they have it all down to a science.
"It'll just be myself and Shannon that night, but we'll unload the donations through our big door out back then take a couple days after to weigh all the food and sort the shelves," she explained. "Those donations will be available on the next following Food Bank day."
Event goers are encouraged to bring common staples to donate on December 17th and throughout the holidays. Shelf stable foods such as pasta, canned goods, and children's snacks are always in need, but Strickland says there are other items to consider which can also be in high demand around Christmas time.
"We find that small bottles of laundry detergent and dish soap move very quickly. And it's important that we get small bottles for the shelves, it helps more people to have many small bottles rather than one big one. Other household essentials we're often looking for are garbage bags, feminine products, hand soap, shampoo and conditioner."
One may also consider looking towards their own Christmas shopping list to find inspirations for donating. Since the holidays are about gathering with friends and family, Strickland says that it's nice to see adult snacks available such as chips, crackers, mixed nuts, or chocolate; things you might put out for guests when they come to visit.
"We also like to see lots of stuffing, and hams in the freezer. Looking back on Thanksgiving, we went through a lot of those. Wild game like sausage or roasts are also welcome! But we can only accept those donations if they were processed by a butcher's shop."
For those members of the community wishing to make a difference but remain unable to make a physical donation to the shelves, Strickland offers the opportunity to help collect monetary donations as a volunteer.
"You know those folks ringing the bells at Walmart and Wholesale each year? We are always looking for volunteers to help with our donation kettles. Whatever small donations come in there can add up, but we need people to work those stations as often as possible. You can give me a call at (306) 842-2280 to sign up!"
Strickland says they are also looking for volunteers to hand out hot chocolate during the Holiday Train event on December 17th, while also assisting with the initial collection of community donations that evening.
With the arrival of November coming as a stark surprise to many, it's no stretch to state that December will be upon us before we know it. Consider your choice of donations now for the upcoming Holiday Train on December 17th, and keep the Food Bank at top of mind as the need for this vital service in our community continues to grow larger each year.
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