Appeal crucial for foodbanks

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If you hear a mixture of sirens and Christmas carols in your street next week, do not be alarmed.
Emergency services, community groups and volunteers will take to the streets to collect food for the annual emergency services foodbank can appeal on Thursday.
Co-ordinator Richie Marlow said the collection would cover most of Dunedin, apart from Mosgiel, which would hold its own collection on Monday.
Mr Marlow said the focus was on canned goods and non-perishable food items but people often donated toys and money.
Emergency services vehicles – “police, fire, St John, rural fire, the Red Cross and LandSar” – would drive through the streets with their sirens going and another car would follow to help collect the items, he said.
“We have two vehicles spaced out and we have runners in between.
“It’s [a] real community effort. Hugely supported from a volunteer side of things … as well as supported by the public.”
The items collected would be split among the three foodbanks in town – the Salvation Army, St Vincent de Paul and Presbyterian Support.
Salvation Army executive ministry leader David McKenzie said the can appeal was “tremendously important”.
“It’s a major input into our ability to be able to provide the food parcel part of our work.”
He said it set the organisation up for two to three months.
“It provides those staples that we would put into a food parcel.”
They were grateful for the community’s involvement in the collection, he said.
Presbyterian Support Otago director of communications Monica Lindemann said the can appeal was one of two major can drives the organisation had each year.
“It’s absolutely essential to stocking our foodbank. It really is a very important event for Dunedin.”
She said there was high demand for items in the new year, as people often got themselves “in a bit of a bind over Christmas”.
“It’s really important that we have stock available over January-February to carry us through that period as well.”
St Vincent de Paul centre and pastoral co-ordinator Sarah Strang said the items collected from the appeal often lasted until September or October.
“It’s huge for us, huge.”
Ms Strang said the can appeal saved the organisation thousands of dollars each year, which they could then spend on other items for the foodbank, such as meat and washing powder.
“We would be lost without it.”