It’s an annual fall tradition in Mount Pearl every year to have young children knock on doors in the hopes of coming away with food to fill hungry bellies.
Not trick-or-treating of course, but rather the Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Association’s annual Big Give food drive. This Saturday, young players will be skipping early hockey practice to knock on doors throughout the city to help those less fortunate in the community. With the minor hockey association partnering with a number of other community groups and Rogers Hometown Hockey, this year’s food drive promises to be the biggest to date.
In fact, thanks to assistance this year from sports organizations within the Mount Pearl Sport Alliance, the Mount Pearl Kin, Lions Cadets and the Scouts, organizers have set a lofty goal of 50,000 food items collected and $5,000 in cash donations. In order to achieve that goal, young minor hockey players will be canvassing neighbourhoods beginning at 9 a.m. on Saturday. This year, organizers and players are hoping to knock on every door in the city.
“We wanted to put a goal to it and this year we have even more people,” said Dave Edney, a long-time organizer of the food drive. “We have a lofty goal of (50,000) this year, and if we fall short, we’re going to beat (32,000).”
This year, the food drive will coincide with the Rogers Hometown Hockey tour setting up shop at the Summit Centre this weekend, hopefully giving the extra boost that organizers are looking for to reach that goal.
“If you’re coming to Rogers Hometown Hockey on the weekend bring along a non-perishable food item and drop it off at the food truck on-site,” said Edney.
Rogers Hometown Hockey hosts Ron MacLean and Tara Sloan will also be paying a visit to the young minor hockey players at Mount Pearl Senior High after their collection efforts. Other minor hockey associations are invited to attend and participate in a parade back to the Summit Centre later in the afternoon. A food truck will also be located on-site at the high school before the parade.
The food drive will also add the new Wal-Mart grocery store to already established partnerships with Sobeys, Colemans and Dominion in Mount Pearl. Minor hockey players and community volunteers will be setting up shop in the stores from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. to accept donations as well.
And while each year the food drive provides a great boost to the two Mount Pearl community food banks during a time of need, this year a large-scale, concerted effort is needed more than ever. Despite the minor hockey association collecting some 32,000 food items and $2,700 in cash donations last year, by the time spring had arrived both food banks were dangerously close to running out of food. Already the St. Vincent de Paul and Mary Queen of the World food banks have received 400 orders for Christmas hampers for this year. That number is up from an average of some 250 hampers each year.
“The need has skyrocketed,” said Edney. “We’re hoping to meet the need that (the food banks) have, and hopefully exceed it.”
Each year the food drive has grown to meet the increasing need. From the humble beginnings with a few minor hockey players and a pick-up truck seven years ago, the food drive has grown tremendously. The effort runs like a well-oiled machine thanks to a huge commitment from organizers.
However, it also takes a great commitment from the over 400 children knocking on doors as well. Young players get the chance to connect with their community through the drive, and learn that their efforts on the ground can make a real difference to help others.
“One of our goals is to have the kids visit the food banks,” said Edney. “They don’t just drop the food off and go again, they actually get to meet the volunteers and learn how their contributions affect the community.”