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Gift of Charity: Feeding the Christmas spirit

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For many people Christmastime is the season when life slows down so that busy families can get together to eat, drink and be merry. Which is why the need for food is so keenly felt at this time of the year.

Joe Van Essen, coordinator of the South Delta Food Bank at Ladner’s Christian Fellowship Penecostal Church, has been part of the volunteer group feeding the hungry for the past 24 years. Every Wednesday, he comes to the church and helps oversee the distribution of food to the public.

When asked how he’s kept it up for nearly a quarter century, Joe says he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s always good to help your neighbours, right? And I think we all have to pitch in a little bit and try to help out the people in need in our community. And if that’s just your neighbour or in your area, I think that’s a good thing to do.”

The need has certainly grown over the years since Joe began volunteering. Back in 1992 there were between 20 and 25 families that relied on the food bank, while on a very busy week in 2016 can expect upwards of 110 families.

But Joe also notes he is only one of many volunteers that come every week and donate their time and effort.

dsc_7417With upwards of 30 volunteers, he says the staff work tirelessly and seamlessly in getting the food sorted and distributed each Wednesday morning. And then, of course, there’s the donors.

“We have a very good community. There are a lot of people that get involved and do little food drives. We even have kids who have a birthday party and their friends have to bring—not a present—but a can of food. And then they bring it to the food bank.”

As if on cue, an eight-year-old girl named Bella carries a box of bananas up to the food bank queue. It brings a smile to everybody’s lips, including Joe’s.

“That’s pretty special.”

There are also many local businesses and sports clubs and other various organizations and churches that are very faithful in donating to the South Delta Food Bank, says Joe.

You can also donate money instead of food with confidence it will be well spent.

“Nobody makes money here,” says Joe. “Any donation that you make to the South Delta Food Bank is a donation to the cause. We have small overhead and a telephone bill to pay but 95 percent of what you donate goes to the cause itself.”

If you wish to donate, you can drop by the office of the Ladner Christian Fellowship Church at 5545 Ladner Trunk Road Monday through Friday 9 am to 4 pm. Or call the South Delta Food Bank at 604 946-1967. Monetary gifts are always welcome, along with any nutritious food items.

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