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Centre Wellington Food Bank moving to gift card model for holidays

CW Food Bank managing director said this is not just about COVID but for empowering people to take care of themselves
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Centre Wellington Food Bank managing Director Fred Aleksandrowicz and board chair Jackie Andrews are remaining positive during the COVID-19 crisis. Keegan Kozolanka/GuelphToday file photo

CENTRE WELLINGTON – The Centre Wellington Food Bank is doing away with holiday food hampers and toy drives as a result of COVID and will continue with a gift card model moving forward.

Clients at the CW Food Bank will be given gift cards to buy food and gifts during the holiday season.

Fred Aleksandrowicz, CW Food Bank managing director, said he’s seen about a 10 per cent increase in usage since COVID and normally will see an uptick during Christmas as well.

He explained that the holiday season can be a sensitive time for some who are struggling to get by and are unable to afford much in the way of holiday spirit.

“I mean Christmas time is supposed to be a time of giving and enjoying family, friends and having a good time, right?” Aleksandrowicz said. “If you feel left out give us a call at the food bank.”

This year the CW Food Bank is not filling boxes and hampers with food but giving gift cards to Walmart or other grocery stores. 

“If somebody wants chips like I do at Christmas and New Year’s I’ll buy myself chips,” Aleksandrowicz said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a personal decision and a choice.”

Switching to gift cards isn’t just a response to COVID, Aleksandrowicz said this is the new model going forward to lift up vulnerable people.

“It comes down to dignity and justice, empower people to go out and look after themselves,” Aleksandrowicz said. “If they need that bit of a help ... give a person that gift card, give them the opportunity to go with the children and go shopping.”

This also applies to things such as toy drives where they instead are giving a $25 gift card per child. 

“Instead of us having a toy drive, we don’t do that any longer and we won’t into the future,” Aleksandrowicz said.

Aleksandrowicz said he’s very thankful for the ongoing support from the community and volunteers as they always do well with food and monetary donations.

This season is no different as he said they have lots of food and money in reserves in case of an influx this holiday season

“Give us a call at the food bank if you need some support over the holidays, we have enough resources for that,” he said. 

The CW Food Bank can be reached at 519-787-1401.