On September 8, over 150 students — many of them new — set out into Ancaster’s Meadowlands neighbourhood for Redeemer’s annual food drive for Neighbour to Neighbour, a local food bank and community outreach centre. The ambitious goal of breaking the the 2013 record of 10,436 pounds of food collected was set — and reached.
In the week leading up to the drive, 4,000 paper grocery bags and flyers were delivered to each home. Nonperishable food items were left on front porches for collection by students and volunteer drivers drove the donations back to campus. Once on campus, food items were loaded into a large truck and driven directly to the food bank for weighing and sorting.
“Watching dozens of new students descend on a car packed with donations and forming assembly lines to unload the food into the larger truck was inspiring,” says Micah Van Dijk, activities and orientation coordinator at Redeemer. “Their energy and willingness to serve was contagious.”
The Meadowlands neighbourhood and Redeemer’s support community were extremely generous — students eclipsed the 2013 record by 50 pounds, collecting a total of 10,486 pounds of food. During the month of September, Neighbour to Neighbour relies on donations like these as they strive to serve their clients before many of the traditional food drives occur around Thanksgiving and Christmas.
The food drive began in 2009 as an opportunity for new students to familiarize themselves with their new neighbourhood and immediately begin their university experience through acts of good citizenship. Since the beginning of this event, Redeemer has been able to collect and donate a grand total of 72,616 pounds worth of food to those in need. In 2016, Neighbour to Neighbour served more than 1,200 Hamilton families each month and provided a total of 754,554 pounds of food to families in need.
“I’d like to give special thanks to our sponsors Ancaster Dental, Stephen J. Dunn Insurance and Meadowlands Fellowship Church, who all helped to make sure this event was possible,” continues Van Dijk. “Additionally, the hospitality that Meadowlands Fellowship Church showed the new students by providing pizza before they began collecting donations was greatly appreciated.”