More than 100,000 pounds of food expected to be collected
The number of people who don’t have enough to eat in Hamilton is growing, but so is the number of young people doing something about it.
At St. Thomas More Catholic Secondary School on the west Mountain, about 800 students (about 100 more than last year) will fan out across the centre-west Mountain on Halloween night to collect food donations for Neighbour to Neighbour Centre.
Over in Ancaster about 200 students from Bishop Tonnos high school will be doing the same in that community for the Good Shepherd Centre.
This is the 14th annual Halloween for Hunger campaign at STM and the eighth annual event at BT.
Over the years the two schools have collected about a million pounds of food for the food banks.
The More students are hoping to collect a record 76,543 pounds of food from some 23,000 homes or about 900 pounds more than last year.
At Bishop Tonnos, the students are hoping to gather 50,000 pounds from more than 500 homes.
“You see the need in your community,” said Bianca Cisternino, a 17-year-old Grade 12 student at More who has been taking part in the Halloween for Hunger event since Grade 9.
This is her second year on the student executive committee that plans and oversees the event.
“Right in your community is where you need to help the most.”
As many as 1,300 families each month use the food bank at Neighbour to Neighbour Centre.
Many are single mothers with children.
Denise Arkell, executive director at Neighbour to Neighbour Centre, said the food brought in by More students should keep their shelves stocked for about a month-and-a-half.
“I’ve never seen a group organize a food raiser like they do and as large a campaign,” said Arkell, who noted the STM effort is the centre’s largest community food raiser of the year
Teens are also organizing the collection in Ancaster.
“The whole initiative is student run,” added Andrea Wade-Joseph, the teacher advisor for the Halloween for Hunger group at Bishop Tonnos.
Both groups say the initiative has been well received in their communities with a majority of the homes they visit providing boxes of food.
In Stoney Creek, the local Rotary Club is holding a Halloween for Hunger event on Oct. 26 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Parents are invited to bring their children dressed in their Halloween costume to Robert Wells Studio of Photography on Highway 8 and have them photographed in their pumpkin patch.
For a donation of five non-perishable food items per child, each family will receive a 5 X 7 photo of their youngster.
All the food collected will go to the Stoney Creek Food Bank.
Back on the Mountain and Ancaster, More and BT student will be dropping off flyers in their respective communities in the coming days to remind home owners of the annual Halloween collection.
The students expect to begin heading out into their communities around 6 p.m. in groups of three or four plus a driver.
Students committees began meeting as early as this past August to plan routes and create maps for each crew.
The collected food will be brought back to what has been called the “controlled chaos” of the STM cafeteria and BT gymnasium where the food will be sorted and stacked.
At More, students are once again looking to build a mountain of food several feet high.
“That’s my favourite part,” said Cisternino. “Seeing the giant mountain of food and knowing we’re changing people’s lives.”
Neighbour to Neighbour and Good Shepherd officials are expected to pick up the food on Nov. 1.