Giving back with three generations

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A Cochrane family is demonstrating how the Helping Hands Food drive brought them closer together.

“I think it is one of the few ways for families to participate in a community activity,” explained Sherry Grund, who started volunteering with the semi-annual Helping Hands Food Drive approximately three to four years ago.

Wanting to find a way to get her children, now nine and 11 years old, more involved in giving back, Grund said she was informed about the food drive through her community association.

“I think with the food drive, it is an easy way for kids to understand the concept of food,” Grund said.

“It’s interesting for them to understand that all families are not as fortunate and they can kind of help. They are not necessarily giving more but they are giving time and that is really good.”

Bringing her kids to collect donations from doorsteps, Grund said once her children were old enough she also started bringing them to the designated buildings to also help sort donations.

“It is a really welcoming space, even for younger children and they always do such a great job,” Grund said.

Being “inclusive” for all ages, Grund’s mother, Noriko Tokuda, 70, also started helping approximately four years ago as a way to give back and spend time with her family.

“There is not a whole lot of things we can do together and I love Cochrane and I love to help out as much as I can,” Tokuda said.

Coming from the east coast and moving to the community two years ago, the grandmother explained that the volunteering opportunity helps her be closer to her grandchildren and “keeps her young.”

“It’s fun and you get to know people … I enjoy interacting with the kids and grandkids,” Tokuda said.

“I like to help and I’m sure somewhere down the road I’ll need help from other people.”

Helping ensure food security in Cochrane is a three-way collaboration between Family and Community Support Services (FCSS), Helping Hands and the Cochrane Activettes Food Bank.

“FCSS identifies the clients who could use hampers, Helping Hands co-ordinates the biannual food drives to supply the Food Bank with 90 per cent of the food used for hampers and the Activettes manage the Food Bank,” Jackie Shier, executive director with Helping Hands explained.

In 2016, the Food Bank helped 2,397 people compared to 1,578 in 2015.

Last year, volunteers collected 1,100 cases of food and this year organizers are hoping to surpass that number.

Donations are collected from Cochrane and western Rocky View including Bragg Creek, Springbank, Bearspaw and Westbrook.

Volunteers will pick up the unexpired, non-perishable food left on doorsteps before 10 a.m. on April 29, or residents can also drop off donations in the bins at Save On Foods, Safeway, Mark’s No Frills and Sunset Ridge Pharmacy.

For more information contact organizers at 587-580-9448 or email info@helpinghandscochrane.ca.

Some non-perishable items needed at the Food Bank:

– Peanut butter- Cereal and oatmeal – Rice and grains- Diapers- Canned vegetables and fruit- Coffee and tea- Canned meat (tuna, ham, chicken, turkey, etc.)- Granola bars and other healthy snacks for lunches (fruit cups, crackers, etc.)- Toilet paper and cleaning supplies

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