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Firefighters food drive breaks records thanks to Saanich Peninsula donors

Christmas charity event returns with a bang after being cancelled in 2020
(In uniform from left) Sidney Volunteer Fire Department firefighter Craig Pelton, Lt. Rick Toogood and Deputy Fire Chief Mike Harman hand Tyson Elder of the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank more than $14,000 in cash donations collected Dec. 11 during the Peninsula Firefighters Christmas Food Drive. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

The 2021 edition of the annual Peninsula Firefighters Christmas Food Drive broke existing records in helping the Saanich Peninsula Lions Food Bank feed those in need.

Firefighters with the Sidney, North Saanich and Central Saanich departments fanned out across pre-chosen parts of their respective communities Dec. 11 to collect food and monetary donations for the food bank.

Paul Schwagly, food drive coordinator for the North Saanich department, said 30 firefighters, family members and friends braved inclement weather Saturday afternoon to walk through Dean Park collecting food and donations.

“We ended our day at the food bank delivering approximately 12,000 pounds of food and $7,300 in cash donations. Both totals were almost double the amount we usually get. This was a record year for our food drive,” he said.

RELATED: Sidney, North Saanich, Central Saanich firefighters unite to douse hunger in annual food drive

The story was similar in Sidney, where firefighters delivered a trailer full of canned goods and other food items to the food bank’s warehouse Monday morning. They also dropped off more than $14,000 in donations, which translates into almost $45,000 of food purchasing power, according to Lt. Rick Toogood, the department’s food drive coordinator.

“We’re pretty excited about that,” he said. Two businesses later contributed another $1,500 to bring the grand total up to nearly $16,000. “I’m absolutely amazed and my heart is full of gratitude to everyone who contributed.” Toogood said Sidney’s previous record for donations was around $11,000.

Kirk McColl, food drive coordinator for the Central Saanich Fire Department, called their efforts a good success. “We raised around $1,000 in cash donations and five pallets of non perishables.”

Overall, Saanich Peninsula residents came through, Schwagly said. “I think we are fortunate to live in a community that gives back.”

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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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