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Filling the shelves at Helping Hand Food Bank (3 photos)

Registration for Christmas hampers is open throughout November

This is a busy time of year at the Helping Hand Food Bank.

For one thing, local schools have been wrapping up their Thanksgiving and October food drives – and box loads of non-perishable food items have been delivered to the St. Mary’s School building, to be sorted and shelved by food bank volunteers.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Helping Hand president Anne Silvey, as the volunteers shifted boxes to make room for the latest delivery – 20 boxes of food donated by visitors to Bradford Greenhouses Garden Gallery’s Open House last Friday. “It’s such an overwhelming response.”

“A week ago, there was nothing here,” said volunteer Alvin Belanger, waving a hand around a packed storage room.

November is also registration month for families needing help at Christmas with a food hamper containing everything for Christmas Dinner, including a turkey or ham, and age-appropriate toys for the children.

The need this year has been overwhelming with up to 28 families and individuals signing up in a single day. “It’s been insane,” said Silvey – a sign that, despite an overheated economy, local families are struggling.

There is still time to register for a Christmas hamper and gifts. Registration will continue through the month of November whenever the food bank (located at 123 Moore St. in Bradford) is open – 1 to 2 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays, and 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on Fridays.

Silvey had a request. Pointing to the growing number of families for whom English is a second or even third language, she suggested that those who find English a challenge bring along a family member or friend to translate.

For more information, see

To receive a Christmas hamper, families cannot have registered for Christmas assistance with any other agency. Families that have registered with the food bank can pick up their hampers and gifts on Thursday, Dec. 20 at Holy Martyrs of Japan Catholic Church parish hall starting at 6 p.m.

Miriam King

About the Author: Miriam King

Miriam King is a journalist and photographer with Bradford Today, covering news and events in Bradford West Gwillimbury and Innisfil.
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