--Aylmer Food Centre prepares for Christmas Share Store event
With the holidays around the corner, volunteers and employees at the Aylmer Food Centre (CAA) are preparing hundreds of Christmas packages as part of the organization’s 15th annual Christmas Share Store event. According to the CAA’s Director of family services Mercedes DTrinidad, this year’s event will take place between December 15 and 17.
But for the first time ever, due to the pandemic preventing people from gathering in bunches, the event will be conducted as a home-delivery service providing customized packages. More than 150 volunteers have contributed to the project and, to date, around $70,000 worth of food and other products is expected to be distributed. In years past, the event has been set up like a mini-grocery store inside the Ernest-Lattion Centre and folks were invited to come in and select their items. Noting that the program provides a full grocery cart’s worth of food for 10 per cent of the retail price, the event usually benefits around 175 families per year. “It’s not just a basket,” DTrinidad said. “It’s really a full grocery cart.”
The program also provides a Christmas gift to all registered people who live alone, and for all families with kids aged 17 and under, as well as care packages for families with babies. So far, more than 175 families have registered for the program, DTrinidad said, noting that she expects around 600 people to benefit.
While the program’s official registration period has ended, DTrinidad said the CAA will gladly allow other people who are interested to sign up. “We always try to help everyone if we can,” she said.
While the need for the CAA’s services is always present, the Christmas Share Store is one of its major annual projects, and a very important one for the community. “We have so much participation and collaboration from residents and schools. We move everybody,” DTrinidad said. “What we’re able to do, it’s not just the food bank; it’s the community. It’s so wonderful.”
Last year, 424 people, including 199 children, from 145 families benefited from it.
Distributing approximately $60,000 worth of food and other things (around $413 worth per family for $15), the program saw 140 volunteers contribute 1,350 hours of work. Unable to celebrate the program’s 15-year anniversary in grandiose fashion, as they would have liked, DTrinidad said it still feels great to reach such an impressive milestone and to help the less fortunate – no matter how challenging circumstances get. Considering that the program depends on public donations, residents are encouraged to support the CAA in any way they can – especially at this time of year.