Through its food drive, Central Smith Creamery collected an estimated 5,000 pounds of non-perishables and $10,000 in donations, thanks to the concerted efforts of community members who dug deep into their pockets to support the cause — a “Christmas miracle” for the company’s vice-president Jennifer Scates.
On Dec. 17, after weeks of promotion and preparation, Scates and some of her fellow Central Smith Creamery colleagues hit the road — making stops in Lakefield, Ennismore, Bridgenorth, Douro-Dummer and Peterborough, collecting non-perishable food donations from participating businesses.
More than 40 businesses across Peterborough County were on board. Large companies and small family-run businesses alike stepped up to help.
Fourteen skids worth of food, along with cash contributions — doled out by a long list of local donors — was donated to Kawartha Food Share.
Central Smith Creamery, located north of the city on Lindsay Road in Selwyn Township, even saw customers come into the shop — a staple in the community — to drop off their own food and cash donations. Some patrons even tossed in a few toys.
The company usually alternates between hosting internal food drives and toy drives each holiday season. But this year, employees at the long-standing family-run business reached out to local businesses and schools, encouraging community members to help in-need individuals during the holiday season. And that’s just what happened.
One of Central Smith’s pickup stops brought them to Chemong Public School in Bridgenorth. Scates said she was overwhelmed by the amount of food that students collected for the drive.
“They themselves collected over three skids of food. The kids just kept coming out of the school. It was like a river of students bringing food to our truck. It was amazing,” she recalled.
“The driver said to me, ‘I didn’t think they were going to quit,’” laughed Scates.
Some students at St. Martin School in Ennismore pitched in, too.
When the food and cash were delivered to Kawartha Food Share, an organization that aims to ensure all members of the Peterborough County-City community have reliable access to an emergency food source, staff members were “shocked” by the haul of goods.
“The people that worked there were really blown away,” said Scates, adding the organization appreciated Central Smith presenting the collected food in a “tidy” and easy-to-sort way — a helpful gesture given the fact that Kawartha Food Share is short-staffed with volunteers due to the pandemic.
“The food drive … resonated with the businesses in the community. It was a community effort; (Central Smith) simply facilitated the picking up and made it easier,” said Scates.
She said the success of this year’s food drive could mean a continuation of the initiative next year — especially due to the “overwhelming” outpouring of support.
“People really want us to do the food drive again and I think if we’re able to connect with more schools we’ll be able to have more food and maybe two trucks full (next time),” Scates said.
“I think we’ll probably do it again next year … if it’s two trucks worth that would be great; might have to ask somebody else to join us if it continues to grow the way it is. I’m very proud of my team and the enthusiasm of the community.”
Scates said she hopes the food drive will have an impact on those in need.
“It’s pretty heartbreaking to think that somebody doesn’t have a meal. I’m just so glad we had this response from the community that we did and that we were able to facilitate this and work together to help,” Scates said.
“For me, personally, it was really, really humbling. It was beautiful. It is a little bit of a Christmas miracle.”
Brendan Burke is a staff reporter at the Examiner. His reporting is funded by the Canadian government through its Local Journalism Initiative. Reach him at email@example.com.
Brendan Burke, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Peterborough Examiner