A community-wide toy and food drive is returning to Chatham-Kent once again.
Officials with the community drive, known as “The Gift,” are asking people to put gifts, such as new toys, non-perishable food items, and new clothing, on their porches by noon on November 19 to help as many people as possible throughout Chatham-Kent this holiday season.
According to this year’s Captain Charlie Mitton, The Gift is owned by everyone.
“The goal of The Gift CK is to help as many people as possible throughout Chatham Kent this holiday season,” stated Mitton. “The Gift aims at facilitating connection and collaboration so no one is left behind. All citizens own The Gift; equally, it is what we make it.”
Donating is easy.
“All you have to do is put a ‘gift’ outside your front door at noon on November 19, and someone from your community will pick it up and get it into the hands who need it,” said Mitton.
The community-wide toy and food drive was driven by citizens of Chatham-Kent back in 2020 in response to the devastation the COVID-19 pandemic caused the community.
Mitton said an estimated $3,000,000 worth of gifts were collected. He added that many seasoned hamper programs estimated more people were reached and helped than ever.
“All during our most difficult year. After such a huge outpouring of kindness and love in our community, we knew we had to continue. The Gift belongs to everyone in C-K and will continue to help as many people as possible each and every year,” said Mitton.
Last year, the fundraiser collected between $1.5 million and $2 million, according to previously published reports.
“We believe in CK and the power of giving. The Gift 2022 will be bigger and better than ever so long as we bring the same spirit that we know C-K is capable of,” said Mitton.
There are still ways to get involved.
“We are in really good shape for volunteers in Ridgetown, Morpeth and Rondeau to go door-to-door,” stated Mitton. “But, there are other ways to get involved. We need volunteers to help make and put up signs and help get the word out that The Gift is happening November 19th.”
Mitton relayed one important message to all donors.
“I have been assured that all items collected locally will be distributed locally,” stated Mitton. “They will be distributed to those in need locally.”
Becky Hebblethwaite from the Salvation Army is grateful for the support.
“Because of the large volume of donations to be expected, which is fantastic, thank you, we have a better, much larger location in Chatham to unload, sort and redistribute back to Ridgetown when space becomes available. It’s the only way logistically we can support such a large amount.,” stated Hebblethwaite. “We understand the importance of staying local, and since we first amalgamated, we have done our best to accommodate that and will continue to. We thank you for your continued support and trust in our long-standing position to continue to support our most vulnerable in the community.”
Bird Bouchard, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Ridgetown Independent News