The Bonnyville Native Friendship Centre is looking for donations to their food bank and clothing supply.
They say they’re getting more clients coming in than they ever have.
“Around Thanksgiving, we get inundated with donations. If you look around my shelves getting empty. I thought perhaps the donations from Christmas would last until February or March and here it is. January is not over and we’re struggling,” said Pauline, assistant executive director of the Bonnyville Native Friendship Centre.
In December, 279 people used the food bank, 79 of those were new clients.
That was the biggest month the Friendship Centre had seen for the year.
And that’s tracking to be even higher for January.
“What we struggle with is protein. We need peanut butter, canned meat, canned tuna, lunch stuff. Pudding, fruit cups, stuff like that….we are in need. There’s still hungry people and with the jobs the way they are, every month I’ve got new clients,” said Pauline.
She says she regularly serves seniors, single-parent families, AISH recipients, and the “hidden homeless.”
“Those are people who couch-surf, they live in a tent in the summer or people who are just living in their cars. Or they come here for a job and their hotel they’re promised doesn’t work…we have those people here and I see them.
“They call the office and make an appointment with me and I will see them. Some people come in and we didn’t know they existed. I’ve had some people who are embarrassed to come in because they’ve had this job, and they’ll me they donated. They say, ‘I feel so bad because other people need it more than me,’ but I stop them and I say no. Right now, you need it more than anyone else. There’s a lot of embarrassment and a lot of pride,” she said.
The items the food bank is looking for is canned fruit, jam, pancake syrup, cookies, canned beans, black beans, chickpeas, lentils, tomatoes, potatoes, boxed potatoes, hamburger helper, crackers, juice boxes, coffee, tuna.
She adds they have lots of canned soup, pasta and sugary cereal in stock.
The Friendship Centre also accepts clothing donations which are free for anybody. With the current arctic temperatures, many people are looking warm clothes.
“In my office, I get new stuff donated like mittens, socks. I have a lot of clients who are in need of that.
“As soon as the clothes come in…within two days it’s empty again. There’s definitely a need for clothes and school-age clothes from Grade 2-7, that size,” said Pauline.
If you are interested in making a donation contact the Bonnyville Native Friendship Centre or go to their website and make a donation.