Thousands of kids in Abbotsford need your help.
Of the 7,000 people who use the services of the Abbotsford Food Bank on a regular basis, a little over 3,000 of those are children, estimates Dave Murray, executive director.
"If there's one reason we should have a food bank, it's for the kids. They can't fend for themselves," he said at the downtown facility recently.
"The community has to decide if those 3,000 kids are worth supporting. We think they are."
Murray and his staff have released new numbers for their Christmas campaign, which not only feeds families throughout the holidays, but all year round.
This year their goal was $600,000, and to date they have raised more than $463,980, which is a shortfall of about $136,000.
"We're not where we need to be," said Murray, but admitted he's not panicking yet, as their year-end is not until March 31.
"It's not great, but if we get another $50,000 in by the end of March we won't be too bad."
Of the 7,000 folks who use various services of the food bank/Christmas Bureau throughout the year, 3,000 to 3,500 of those are dependent on the food bank to keep their families fed.
Over Christmas, the number was up 20 per cent from the same period last year. Over the past summer, 200 more families signed on with the food bank and continue to receive its services.
"It's been going up every year," Murray said.
And while the holiday push is over, Murray hopes people won't forget there is still a big need in the community. In order to not shortchange any clients, Murray is contemplating reducing staff from full-time to part-time to help with the costs.
Some integral programs may also need to be cut, such as the summer sports program for kids and their mentoring program.
But still, he's grateful for all the support from members of the community.
"Thank you to everyone who supports us. We need to say that over and over," he said. "It's a passion for us. We're very grateful."
While they are still calculating products in the warehouse, the general consensus is they need more canned meat, dry pasta, peanut butter and canned fruit and vegetables on a continual basis.
But Murray was quick to point out that their clients need more than food, and that's why the food bank offers help and support through many of its programs throughout the year.
"If we target people who want and are open to help, we can be successful," he said. "It's one of the ways we can address poverty. We have to change the pathway people are on."
- The Abbotsford Food Bank is located at 33914 Essendene Ave., Abbotsford. Donations of food or toys can be dropped off during business hours M - F, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. For more information go to www.abbotsfordfoodbank.com or call 604-859-5749.