GUYSBOROUGH – When the Guysborough and Area Food Bank moved into its new forever home on Green Street in Guysborough in 2020, they knew the new modern space would be a wonderful asset, but they didn’t imagine that it would be so necessary for the smooth running of the organization due to COVID-19 during the 2021 holiday season.
Elizabeth Connolly, secretary of the food bank, told The Journal in an interview on Dec. 18 that, although the food bank had its busiest year yet, “In our new food bank it was so much easier; all the food preparation for Christmas was able to be stored in the food bank. We didn’t have to go off-site this year.”
In previous years, the organization didn’t have enough storage space, which resulted in volunteers housing food stuffs, until it was ready to go out the door to clients.
Speaking to the number of clients served this Christmas season, Connolly said, as of Dec. 18, they had provided holiday food hampers to 142 clients and, “There may be more going out this week. I know tomorrow morning we are passing one out. But I know this will be the week that we will get the calls.”
In comparison, last year the food bank provided 130 Christmas hampers to people in need.
And while the need is great, so too is local generosity.
Connolly said, “The financial support was wonderful this year for us. We had enough to cover us. Everything went really well. We have our volunteers, they’re excellent. We had a new volunteer come with us this year, Ronnie Biron.”
Given that the Christmas distribution date of Dec. 16 came just as the province entered a new wave of COVID-19, Connolly said, “We were worried this year about it – worried about our volunteers and our clients – but it worked out very well for us. One client entered at a time and the volunteers were distancing six feet, so we felt very good, if there is such a thing as feeling good about COVID. We weren’t feeling threatened [by COVID] at the Legion [Christmas hamper distribution location] that day. The distancing was being kept.”
The Christmas season is the biggest fundraising period for the food bank, Connolly said, “So what we bring in now, pretty much, has to do us for the rest of the year, too. We get some donations through the year… but this is our major fundraising time of the year.”
Donations are always welcome because, as Connolly said, “The food bank is not just Christmas – we will close for two weeks but 50 weeks out of the year we are open to serve our clients.”
She added, “People are so kind, and we are so fortunate… We can’t believe how well we are doing with the financial support that we’re getting. We consider ourselves very fortunate.”
When asked what the food bank’s goals are in the coming year, Connolly said, “The main goal for this coming year again will be that no clients in our coverage area, no families or individuals will be hungry.”
The Guysborough and Area Food Bank will reopen on Jan. 6, 2022, for regular service at the Green Street location. The winter coat give-away will also resume at that time and location.
Anyone wishing to donate to the food bank can mail a cheque made out to the Guysborough and Area Food Bank to PO Box 284, Guysborough, NS, B0H 1N0. All donations will be issued a receipt.
Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Guysborough Journal