September 17, 2016 7:34 pm
Updated: September 17, 2016 7:50 pm

‘My heart is warming up’: Volunteers help restock bare shelves at the Calgary Food Bank

Volunteers unload truckloads of donations picked up from 198 communities across Calgary.

Mike Hills, Global News
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Volunteers stopped by thousands of Calgary homes in almost 200 local neighbourhoods Saturday, picking up donated food.

The Calgary Food Bank’s city-wide food drive is now in its fifteenth year.

Local demand for food hampers has never been greater, especially for struggling families.

“We typically do about 2,500 to 3,000 hampers per month. In the last couple of years we have seen that grow every month. Now we’re almost doing 6,000 hampers per month,” Shawna Ogston with the Calgary Food Bank (CFB) said.

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Kevin Reed helps coordinate the northwest food drop-off location. It’s a busy task managing incoming carloads of food.

“I would suggest 500 to 600 carloads. Some are more full than others, but it all adds up.”

For some volunteers, collecting donated food from doorsteps and dropping it off at depots, like the one at Market Mall, is a yearly routine.

“It always been a lot of fun,” Brandon Comfort, who volunteers with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said. “I remember as a kid we would just have the van open on the side and all the kids would just run up to the houses and bring the food back. It’s kind of a tradition at this point.”

The arriving inventory is a welcome relief. As the economic downturn continues, for many families, financial difficulties are compounded this time of year by added home heating costs and back-to-school expenses. There’s some evidence young families are feeling the pinch at the CFB, with the shelves of their baby room almost bare.

“The cost of babies is so high and if you’re having a hard time putting food on the table, the expense of diapers and wipes and baby formula is huge,” Ogston said.

A forklift ballet has begun intake of over 450,000 pounds of donations. It’s over 50,000 pounds more than last year.

“We’re going to need a lot of helping hands, that’s for sure, to get through these donations.”

But there’s hope the generosity of Calgarians will continue to pour in.

“I feel that my heart is warming up,” volunteer Lisa Zhang said. “Because when you help some people yourself, it makes you feel really good.”

WATCH ABOVE: Shawna Ogston joins Global News Calgary to talk about the event and how you can help out.

© 2016 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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