With the number of families needing food rising, the Harvest House Food Bank received a sizable donation from the Chemainus-Crofton Eagles recently.
The Chemainus-Crofton Fraternal Order of Eagles No. 4400 presented $1,600 and five or six boxes full of food, which was raised during the annual Carol Ship on Dec. 8, to the Harvest House Food Bank in Chemainus.
The Carol Ship has been sailing since the 1980s, and this is the sixth year the Eagles have been in charge.
This year, the Eagles decided to give all the proceeds from the Carol Ship to Harvest House. The Eagles accepted food donations on the ship, and they sold cookies and hot chocolate by donation.
“Most years, Harvest House does benefit,” said Wendy Slee of the Eagles. “We feel at this time of year, it’s so important to look after others in need. We support charities all year round, and at this time of year, the food bank is the way to go.”
This year’s ship sold out all 257 tickets.
“It was the best year ever due to the weather,” said Slee.
BC Ferries takes a sailing off from Chemainus to Thetis Island and lends its boat for the Carol Ship. The ship heads toward Ladysmith, where the boats participating in Mount Brenton Power and Sail Squadron’s Christmas Lights Cruise circle the ferry.
Every year, a local choir volunteers to sing during the Carol Ship, and this year, the choir from St. Michael’s Anglican Church sang, and the singers were amplified for the first time.
“Friends in Saltair said they sat on their porch and heard it,” said Slee. “What really makes it is the ships circling us. It’s caroling, watching lighted ships and sharing hot chocolate.”
Sylvia Massey, chair of the Harvest House Society, which runs the food bank, says donations like this help improve the society’s buying power.
“When we get money rather than donations of food, it’s a lot better because we tend to buy more wholesale, so our buying power is very good,” she said.
Each week, the Harvest House Food Bank gives away approximately 256 cans of soup and 157 packages of pasta.
In November, Harvest House served 944 adults, 389 children and 36 babies between the Crofton and Chemainus food banks.
“That’s an incredible amount of people,” said Massey.
The Crofton food bank serves Crofton and Westholme, while the Chemainus food bank serves families in Saltair, Chemainus, Penelakut Island and the surrounding areas.
“It’s a fairly wide catchment area,” said Massey. “The numbers have grown. Up until about three weeks ago, we were giving food enough for 75 households a week [in Chemainus], and last week, we were up to 94. It was the same in Crofton — it used to be 35 households a week, and last week, it was 47. I don’t know whether it’s just the Christmas season, but it really has gone up.”