As early as the beginning of November, before Dec. 25 appeared on most folks' radars, a Richmond Mountie was already plotting a Christmas campaign.
Having recognized the shortage of food supplies at local food banks, Sgt. Cam Kowalski created the "1000 lb Challenge," where he tasked employees at his detachment to reach his goal of 1,000 pounds of food donated to the Richmond Food Bank Society by the end of the month.
A list of items needed at the food bank was circulated to all employees and boxes were placed in a central location in the detachment where donations could be made.
Names of the various sections within the detachment were placed on the boxes in order to encourage donations through friendly competition with other sections.
Well, the competition heated up, the donations began to pour in and the goal of reaching 1,000 pounds of food was met.
On Dec. 5, Sgt. Kowalski and officers from his watch presented the food bank with the collection.
The donations help provide nutritionally balanced food parcels to the 550 plus households the food bank assists every week.
Margaret Hewlett, executive director of the food bank, said, "Our volunteer drivers estimated that the target of 1,000 pounds was reached. More importantly, they reported that the donations were of very high quality (and products that we need to buy if not donated) and easily worth $2,500 to $3,000."
For more information on the Richmond Food Bank Society, visit www.richmondfoodbank.org.
Meanwhile, the first ever Richmond Christmas Fund Drive-Thru Event, held at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel, provided further proof that Richmond's spirit of giving is alive and well.
The event took place from 6 to 9 a.m., so much of the time volunteers were working in the dark. Nevertheless, they were determined to brighten the holidays for families in need.
Volunteers from the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the Rotary Club of Richmond Sunrise, Scotiabank and the Richmond Firefighters Association collected donations from the public, and in return handed out free coffee and a McDonald's muffin.
"This year, we wanted to do something new to raise money for the Christmas Fund," said Elizabeth Specht, executive director of Volunteer Richmond Information Services (VRIS).
"The drive-thru event was an idea we thought of several months ago, and required a lot of hard work to get off the ground.
"But with the help of some incredible volunteers, everything really came together. I think it's safe to say we'll be doing it again in 2012."
Donations for the morning totaled $1,797, in addition to dozens of bags full of toys and books.
"Many people came on their way to work, and others made a special trip," added Specht.
"To everyone who donated, we offer our heartfelt thanks. We hope we'll see you again next year."
The Richmond Christmas Fund mobilizes the community's spirit of giving to make holiday wishes come true for 2,000 low-income Richmond residents each year.
Each person registered with the program receives a grocery voucher and nearly 1,000 children under 15 years old also receive toys or gift cards donated to the program.