Special Cruise for Care fills Port Alberni food bank’s shelves

Deb Roberts from B.C. Ambulance Service accepts a donation of food from a participant in the Cruise for Care on Friday, June 19, 2020. Dozens of cars lined up in the parking lot of the Alberni Athletic Hall, most of them with food donations. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Cherry Creek Volunteer Fire Dept. firefighters West Kovacs, left, Nikolas Findlay, Ryan Devries and Shane Wangler drop off two pallets of food from Tyler’s No Frills to the Cruise for Care food drive on Friday, June 19, 2020. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Paramedics from the B.C. Ambulance Service in Port Alberni grab bags of food from the back of a classic Ford Mustang at the start of the Cruise for Care food drive on Friday, June 19, 2020. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Nick Bordeleau from Alberni Valley Rescue Society hands a box full of food to a paramedic with the B.C. Ambulance Service before the start of the Cruise for Care food drive on June 19, 2020. The AVRS collected food from its members to donate to the food bank. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Drivers came out in droves for the Cruise for Care food drive on June 19, 2020 in Port Alberni. People lined the routes to thank the drivers for their generosity. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)

A special Cruise for Care has helped fill Port Alberni Community Food Bank’s shelves for the next few months.

Emergency personnel from B.C. Ambulance Service and the Alberni Valley Rescue Society were on hand in PPE to collect food donations from drivers participating in the ride.

Volunteer firefighters from Cherry Creek VFD arrived with a pickup truck loaded with two pallets of food from Tyler’s No Frills. The firefighters raised $700 and Tyler’s No Frills matched the amount to allow them to purchase the food, firefighter Wes Kovacs said.

Because there was so much food in their truck, the firefighters and a volunteer with Salvation Army drove directly to the food bank on Argyle Street to unload the food, rather than putting it in the back of the cube van used to collect other donations.

Drivers left the Alberni Athletic Hall and cruised along a route that took them to Harbour Quay and back to the hall before they all dispersed. This was the third and final Cruise for Care for the Alberni Valley, as the community slowly reopens after the height of the COVID-19 crisis.

READ: Final Cruise for Care doubles as food drive for Port Alberni

The need is particularly critical right now, says Salvation Army Captain Michael Ramsay. Port Alberni’s COVID-19 Response Team has delivered more than 36,000 meals to vulnerable people since the coronavirus pandemic began in March.

“The community has done a great job of supporting us, and we’re so thankful for it. The need has been quite significant,” Ramsay said before the cars departed the Alberni Athletic Hall parking lot.

“We’re still delivering to over 500 people a day, and 400 of those are straight in people’s houses. People need to make sure they stay safe. Another 100 of those (meals) are off our mobile food truck.

“With that amount of meals over the last 90 some-odd days, as you can imagine we go through our supplies very, very quickly.”

Ramsay said the food drive was a blessing, and Roberts said they collected enough to fill the food bank’s shelves until Christmas. The food bank accepts cash donations, which can stretch their food dollars. The Salvation Army thrift store is open now at the Argyle Street location “so we’re able to help that way as well now,” he added.


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