Cst Gary McLaughlin continues to fight back against hunger in our communities.
In 2009, Cst. Gary MCLAUGHLIN, while posted in Revelstoke, BC, created the EMERGENCY SERVICES FIGHT BACK AGAINST HUNGER food drive to assist the Revelstoke Food Bank in increasing their supplies during the Thanksgiving and Christmas Seasons where demand is very high for their services.
This program stems from the fact that McLaughlin proudly calls himself a
food bank kid having to depend on the food banks growing up in a poor area of Northern Ontario. The program is designed to give back to the areas serviced by the various Emergency Services and Front Line personnel.
In 2014, McLaughlin approached the Lumby Food Bank in establishing the same program in that community.
Since then the program has been very successful in Revelstoke and Lumby/Lavington and has been recognized provincially as the single biggest annual food bank event in their respective areas. States Cst Gary McLaughlin of the RCMP North Okanagan Traffic Services.
The program allows individuals to place food items at the end of their driveways, which Emergency Response personnel and volunteers collect and transport to the local food bank. This event, traditionally held before Thanksgiving, allows the local Food Bank to stock up for the increased demand from local families facing challenges in bringing food to their tables.
Traffic Services officers like Cst. McLaughlin spend many hours of their own time volunteering in communities across British Columbia and we are thankful for their service, says Supt. Holly Turton, Officer in Charge of BC RCMP Traffic Services.
We encourage our officers to engage in community events in support of good causes.
This program has collected hundreds of thousands of pounds of food and tens of thousands of dollars for local food banks over the years and will continue to support these communities for years to come.
The clients that traditionally have used the food bank services have changed dramatically due to the massive layoffs, children required to remain at home, and the increase in personal debt. Thus, simply cancelling the food drive, as other such programs have done in all aspects of our lives, is not an option. States McLaughlin.
Post Covid-19 measures requires changes to the
normal plan. These changes are to ensure the volunteers and Emergency Services personnel do not face an increased risk of contracting the virus.
The 2020 plan will change in the following ways:
- The event kicks off at 5:00 pm on Wednesday, October 7th, 2020.
- Volunteers ask donations be placed at the end of the driveway by 5:00 pm when collection will begin.
- There will be no central collection location. All food is directly to the Food bank.
- No Emergency vehicles will have any contact with food/donation items.
- All collected items will be placed in a designated private vehicle (pickup truck)
- Only the designated vehicle will transport the food to the food bank.
- Only items placed at the end of driveways will be collected. There will be no food collected from individuals to ensure safe distancing between volunteers and community members.
- All volunteers and Emergency Services personnel and volunteers will wear applicable personal protective equipment (PPE) and follow all safety policies as directed by their respective agencies.
- The Lumby Food Bank will be responsible for the sorting and handling of food items upon receipt from the pickup teams.
Without going into the obvious challenges we have all faced with the new Covid-19 world we live in the challenges that our local food bank is currently facing is astronomical.
We, as a First Responder community, face these challenges each and every day and have always stepped up to meet these challenges head on. Covid-19 is no different. States McLaughlin.
We will be there, as we always have, to positively affect the lives of the communities we serve and will be there this year as well to support the food bank.
Cst. Gary McLaughlin