Our Community Champions: Heroes of the Miracle Food Drive

Our Miracle Food Drive on June 27th, 2020 was a day of giving, like no other. One day? Believe it or not, it’s still a work in progress!

Our area captains divided the municipality of Kingsville into sections and coordinated volunteer pickup routes.  Caroline Sitler, Janice Durocher, Andy Dowling, Mandy Furtado Janz, Victoria Schmoranz and Kim DeYong expected a dozen skids of donations.

With the construction on Jasperson, it would have been impossible for all volunteers to drop off their collections at the arena, which was the original plan. Owner Walter Schmoranz generously offered the Pelee Island Winery as a second location. Head winemaker, Martin Janz, helped out tremendously on Miracle Day and then coordinated the move of all donations from the winery to the arena the very next day, using their skids and trucks.

Dismayed, and wanting to cry when they realized what we had accomplished in this amazing municipality, volunteers stared at seventy-five skids of non-perishable items. A massive and incomprehensible task was at hand. It was now the responsibility of the Kingsville Community Food Bank to do the sorting and distribution.

Kim DeYong contacted Meghan Mulcaster Bolton, another key volunteer and member of Rotary Club of Kingsville Southshore who serves the food bank. They knew Kingsville would again come together to accomplish their goal … to keep the donations in our community, as overwhelming as this would be.

We were in the midst of a pandemic with safety at the forefront. Kim and Meghan created a system, scheduling and limiting the number of people that would be at the arena at any given time. They followed the town’s set criteria.

Every person signed in and provided contact information each time they arrived. Masks were made available. The town opened a washroom facility dedicated to the volunteers and provided the sanitary wipes and hand sanitizer.

The sorting began, in the scorching heat, with no air conditioning. Fans were not an option due to the dust. Volunteers arrived daily, taking one box at a time to an assigned table, arranging and delivering them to specific labelled areas — pasta, toiletries, cereal, soup, etc.

Laughter ensued as some pulled out magnifying glasses to find the expiry dates and others went to hose themselves down!

It was clear from the start that the food bank would not be able to store this number of goods in their facility on Division Road.  Community organizations were asked to submit wish lists in support of their clients.

Access County Community Support Services, Kingsville Goodfellows, St. Vincent de Paul Food Bank based in St. John de Brebeuf Church, Windsor/Essex County Humane Society, Windsor Downtown Mission, churches, and many other organizations were all supplied with boxes to meet their needs.

Meghan and Kim came up with another brilliant solution knowing that any item with an expiry date of 2020 had to be distributed soon. Over 100 food boxes were created for families, people who don’t use the food bank but needed help this once.

We might some day find ourselves in a position where we need help to get over a challenging time in our lives. It may be an unexpected bill or moving between jobs, for example.

If you find yourself in these circumstances at any time and are a resident of Kingsville, please call the Kingsville Community Food Bank at (519) 733-8591.  It’s fully stocked with all donations as well as eggs, meat, milk, bread and much more for your families.

Two weeks later the arena was void of donations. This would never have been possible without the dedication of many volunteers including Heather and Dave LeBrun, Dan Bolton, Dean DeYong, Jen and Dave Hunt, John and Peter Lein, Stacey Jones, Tracey Crabtree, Greg Wildey, Wes and Linda Mulcaster, Ken Womack, Ryan and Rowan Alice, Femi and Stephen Peters, Andy Dowling, Linda Lyman, Leo Dupont, Andreas Baptista and more.

How heartwarming it was to see children sorting with their parents and grandparents. Regardless of the heat, in service to others and leading by example, this community came together with a common purpose.

Because of the pandemic and the closure of the Unico Hall to the public, excess items are now stored there. The proximity to the food bank makes it very easy to transfer the items. Twice a week, volunteers continue to do so, refilling shelves at the food bank.

We’re in Stage 3 and Unico is now opening up to the public. Another change of plans! The food bank is stocked to the brim and St. George’s Masonic Lodge has now graciously offered space as a backup.

Windsor-Essex gathered 2,020,500 lbs of food, enough to feed 28,850 households for one year. Over 75 local food banks and organizations were involved. We rock!

Other communities can mirror what we and Lambton Kent have done. We can each make a difference in the lives of others across the province, throughout this country and around the world.

The generosity of our residents has been second to none and began the day countless families put their goods out on the curbside — June 27th. It’s not over. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!

Thank you to two of our community champions: Meghan Mulcaster Bolton, and Kim DeYong. You took the reins for a monumental job after our Miracle Food Day. Without you, we’d still be sorting — somewhere!

Photos: Lynn McLaughlin

One Comment

  1. Avatar Christine Moody

    I remember talking to Kim on the phone after a day spent sorting. She was exhausted and when I realized there was no air conditioning, I thought all the volunteers so went above and beyond. This article really highlights the behind the scenes work involved in a project like the Miracle. Checking expiry dates? Imagine the time just doing that! I volunteered to pick up food that day but after reading this, I know I’m going to have to step up my game next time to lighten the load for the sorting team.

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