INNISFAIL - For the past decade at this time of the year the Rotary Club of Innisfail has found a way to help the town’s less fortunate secure items most Innisfailians take for granted.
These items are ones the Innisfail and District Food Bank can’t purchase with donated money but are often desperately needed by financially challenged families; things like hand bar soap, men’s and women’s deodorant, shampoo and tooth paste.
But every year for the past 10 the service club launches its Food Bank Support Program to purchase $500 of the needed items at a wholesale price from the local No Frills. Rotary then gives the items directly to the Innisfail food bank as a donation.
This year’s donation to the Innisfail food bank, a collaborative partnership between Rotary and No Frills, was held Sept. 12 at Paul’s No Frills Innisfail.
Tammy Thompson, president of the Rotary Club of Innisfail, was on hand with a cheque of $500 towards the items’ wholesale cost from Paul’s No Frills, and a second cheque of $250 came from Day Dental where Thompson is office manager.
“There's certain things that they (food bank) can and can't purchase and by doing it this way they get what they need,” said Thompson. “And Rotary always wants to be a part of our community. People support our club. We in turn support our community.”
Paul Begg, the new owner of Paul’s No Frills Innisfail, said it was important for his company to help the Innisfail community in the best ways it can.
“It's such a tight knit community that we can help and it's great that we can give back,” said Begg, who’s been in town since last February and has been impressed with the community’s generosity. “The amount of people that we've had, just donating things when we say we have something going on; the amount of feedback we get is amazing, and that's from all parts of the community.”
And the community giving, including from both Rotary and No Frills, has moved food bank officials, who continue to be challenged with the rising need in the community for extra support just to get by.
Valerie Davies, executive coordinator of the food bank, said the special item donation is not only urgently needed for the town’s vulnerable but enthusiastically welcomed every year before the traditional late summer or early autumn offering.
“We're getting new clients every day,” said Davies. “They're always asking, ‘do you happen to have any shampoo?’ Or, ‘do you have any toothpaste?’ Or, ‘do you have any personal products that we can use?
“Feminine products, especially, is another one (item) that we could really have a lot more donations of.”
Heather Taylor, the food bank’s coordinator, added the number of citizens her agency is serving this year has increased by 30 per cent over 2022.
“Just in July and August we had 37 new clients,” said Taylor.
However, Davies said there is hope ahead as it is the time of year when many local organizations do large food drives.
“The community has kept us running all year long,” said Davies. “I cannot say enough of how much we get from our community, from everybody.”