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CMS food bank helping south Cowichan residents help each other
South Cowichan residents are taking care of each other and this holiday season Terry Eden, President of the South Cowichan Food Bank, is grateful.
"We couldn't do anything without the community. The community is just awesome. We put the call out and everybody is there. We really appreciate it."
Last year the food bank provided 250 food hampers to those in need living south of Koksilah Road to the Malahat. Eden said it is thanks to the many contributions by local schools, organizations, businesses and the 50 regular food bank volunteers.
"(There are) donations from the community to fill hampers. We get food from the schools. There's the gift bag program in conjunction with Thrifty's: you can buy so much to donate toward the food bank.
People around here are quite good about knowing what we need and trying to help us out."
On top of the hampers, the food bank has Toy Drive to provide gifts for families with children.
"People don't ask for a lot, they just want something for their kids. They want to be able to put something under the tree. We do about 200 kids, who must be in school."
Eden tries to gather gifts on each child's wish list. There is a tree at Thrifty's and one at Curves in Mill Bay. People can pick a name off the tree, buy the gift, and bring it to the food bank so Eden can bring it to the families before Christmas.
"I distribute the gifts unwrapped in a gift bag and the family can wrap it. Then they know exactly what they are giving the children. I usually try to get an article of clothing as well. These kids don't have a lot."
For all programs at the food bank, privacy is paramount.
"We code everything. No real names are given. Their privacy is respected."
Eden said there is a misconception that those who live in Cobble Hill, Mill Bay and Shawnigan aren't in need.
"We have a lot of working poor. They've lost one job. They can't make it anymore. Rents are expensive. We are here to help them."
Eden said pride is a barrier for some people to come into the food bank but once they do, they are considered part of the food bank family.
"A lot of people don't come unless they really have to. There is the issue of pride, and I can't blame them. They realize Christmas is here and they can't make it."
The food bank can help anyone who has as proof they are residents of South Cowichan.
"We have to have proof of address. We work together so there is enough for everyone in the community."
The CMS Food Bank is one of six beneficiaries of the News Leader Pictorial Pennies For Presents campaign.
Cash donations to Pennies For Presents can be dropped off at the News Leader Pictorial's office in Duncan at 5380 Trans Canada Highway. For more information call the office at 250-746-4471.
You need to know
The South Cowichan CMS Food Bank is located at 2740 Lashburn Rd in Mill Bay.
Hampers go out every Tuesday and Thursday between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Bread is available every Tuesday.The last hamper goes out Dec 13. The food bank is open for emergencies the week of Dec. 17 between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. The CMS Food Bank accepts donations of non-perishables and produce. Call 250-743-5242.