With Canada Day celebrations at Centennial Park not being held this year due to COVID-19, the City of Beaconsfield got creative and found an alternative way for residents to come together.
“We wanted to encourage and to celebrate generosity between citizens of the Island of Montreal,” said Geneviève Dubé, Beaconsfield administrative assistant to the Culture and Leisure Department.
City officials organized a Canada Day food drive as a sign of solidarity for Welcome Hall Mission’s Free Grocery Stores.
Residents were encouraged to leave non-perishable items at the end of their driveway or on the curb in a bag or box, or drop the donations off at participating grocery stores: Metro Plus Beaconsfield and Provigo Kirkland.
Beaconsfield City Workers driving pickup trucks blasting upbeat music through their loudspeakers travelled around the municipality picking up the food.
“We have 13 trucks out and they all have a sector to do,” Dubé said. “Usually that sector takes about two hours to do when we’re taking our time but now we’re going very slow and stopping whenever people are saying hi or bringing food.”
When the containers in the back of the pickups were full with food, workers would unload the goods at the Welcome Hall Mission cargo truck in the parking lot of the public works building.
With most trucks doing two trips to their designated sector, bin after bin returned filled to the brim.
“I am very very proud of my neighbourhood and it’s wonderful to see the generosity of people from Beaconsfield,” Dubé said.
The initiative couldn’t have come at a better time as one in seven Montrealers experience hunger every day, according to Welcome Hall Mission CEO Sam Watts.
“To me, that’s just not good enough, we need to do better,” he said.
Since the beginning of the pandemic they have welcomed 3,500 customers in need of free food per week, Watts said.
“We’ve seen more and more people, people who we’ve never seen before who need free food,” he said.
But at the end of a generous day of giving back, they got some much needed immediate help.
The Welcome Hall Mission cargo truck was so full it has to return on Thursday to pick up donations that simply didn’t fit.
A proud resident of Beaconsfield himself, an overjoyed Watts said, “It just shows they (Beaconsfield residents) are really excited about helping those in need and not just helping those in need in Beaconsfield, helping those in need all across the Island of Montreal.”
If Beaconsfield residents missed the pick-up window and would like to donate, they are encouraged to make a cash donation by visiting Welcome Hall Mission’s website.