Making Miracles in Belle River
What does it take to bring a community together during times of need? Turns out all it takes is one can of food.
As soon as the pandemic hit in early 2020, a group of volunteers in southwestern Ontario came together to help combat a growing concern: hunger.
On May 16, 2020, in Chatham-Kent, Ontario, the ask was simple: place a nonperishable food item on your doorstep and a volunteer will pick it up and give it to someone in need.
It’s such a simple concept, but thousands of people doing this one thing made a huge difference.
That day, nearly 3,000 volunteers collected about 700,000 pounds of food. That’s a lot of food and volunteers for a community of about 100,000 people. So much so that the event unintentionally and unofficially broke the world record for the biggest food drive. [LINK]
The event’s success encouraged volunteers in other communities to do the same, and just six weeks later, the June 27th Miracle collected just over 2 million pounds of food in Windsor-Essex, breaking the world record for a second time. [LINK]
The Miracle Returns
The June 27th Miracle returned this year and residents in Belle River, Ontario, were excited to participate again.
“This year, we were able to collect two full skids of food on behalf of Belle River Wind, and we also participated in the door-to-door pick up in our local neighbourhood. After that, we delivered the food to a drop-off location that organizers had set up,” says Lana Downer-Arispe, Site Logistics Coordinator for Belle River Wind.
The team at Belle River Wind was just one of many groups of volunteers across Windsor-Essex who collected food from porches all afternoon and brought them to centralized locations where donations were sorted and counted.
More Than Just Food
There are so many benefits to a food drive like this. Not only are communities coming together to support those who need it, but families and friends can spend time together by volunteering.
“It was such a great experience to volunteer at this event, but what made this extra special was that my two sons were also able to participate in this event and learn about humility and giving back,” Lana explains.
Many kinds of non-perishable food items were received, including pasta, pasta sauce, canned vegetables, peanut butter, and a Canadian favourite – Kraft Dinner.
But where will all the food go?
“The food we collected in Belle River will go to the Community Support Centre of Essex County. This foodbank helps feed those in our local community,” explains Lana.
It was a similar story in Chatham-Kent, and the process remains the same in Windsor-Essex – donations given in any community will stay in that community.
A Team That Gives Back
Participating in the June 27th Miracle this year was a no-brainer for the Belle River Wind team.
“We wanted to be part of this heartwarming volunteer event where our community came together in so many ways. We’re always looking for ways to engage with our community and support those in need,” says Lana.