PERTH - Hugh Colton has seen one hungry face too many.
“When I see the face of a kid who hasn’t eaten in a few days, I can’t stand that,” said Colton at the Build-a-Mountain of Food campaign wrap-up celebration at Jamieson’s Chinese restaurant in Perth on Sunday, Jan. 13. “The faces of food banks are changing,” he added, nothing that now it is often the working poor, people working hard at two and sometimes three part-time jobs who simply run out of money at the end of the month, or working single parents.
Gratefully for Colton, thanks to the hard work of volunteers and donators, less children went hungry this past holiday season because of the campaign, which broke records and ended up collecting 76,035 lbs of food and $32,696.14 in cash donations.
“You should be very, very proud of these numbers because you did a great job,” said Colton, who is the campaign’s chief organizer. “(Back on) Oct. 11, 2012, we met in this very room and we discussed how we were going to do this. (Well) nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm and you guys are a very enthusiastic group… I believe we have filled the food banks of 11 communities and you should be very proud.”
The number of communities helped by the campaign continues to grow, partly by good word of mouth.
“People hear about us and trust us,” said Colton. “When we go to Delta, they know that we collect for Delta… it stays there. We don’t have a large warehouse.”
Colton was not the only well-known attendee at the event. While Norm Wright’s face is somewhat familiar, his voice is certainly very well known.
“I am so impressed,” said Wright of Lake 88 FM. “It is heart-warming. It sent a little shiver up my back to see this crowd. Who knows what next year will bring? We may want to rent the National Arts Centre or the arena!”
“Every year it keeps growing and growing,” said his pal Brian Perkin, also of Lake 88, who added that, as their station’s signal has grown, so too has their desire to reach out to new listening communities to share the message of Build-a-Mountain.
While Colton is the public face of the campaign, he insisted that “it’s not about me. I don’t do squat,” compared to the volunteer workers.
Amongst the many people he wished to thank were Carl Evoy at Impression Printing, the EMC, the Wesport Review-Mirror, Town and Country Chrysler, Cogeco community television, DJ Rob Orr who donated his time and talents to the event, and a slightly unusual shout out to Quattrochi’s for – banana boxes.
“You can’t collect food without banana boxes,” said Colton. “I don’t care what you say, it is the best way to weigh food, to pack food.”
All told, the company donated at least 1,500 boxes.
He also commended the grocery stores who donated food, sometimes through friendly rivalries, other times in order to top up sluggish donations, or to meet a donation goal.
“We can’t do this without the support of the grocery stores,” said Colton, who pointed out that the stores keep the spirit going of donating food all-year long, as many now have pre-packaged food donation bags that people can literally buy and drop into the food bank bin.
“It’s the biggest bang for your buck that you can get,” said Colton. “They are great people and they really step up.”
Another factor that made this year’s amount extra special was that the final food and money tally did not factor in donations from the CP Holiday Train which did not stop in Perth this year.
Even so, “this is over the top,” said a clearly excited Colton. “(We do it) because we care and because we can. We go out there and we provide hope to people who use food banks.”
By the numbers, here is how the 2012 campaign broke down.
Grocery location donations:
- Delta: 200 lbs
- Perth/Lanark: 6,700 lbs
- Smiths Falls: 18,200 lbs
- Carleton Place/Almonte: 3,000 lbs
- Wesport: 10,000 lbs
- Elgin: $500 from Gordanier family
The final tallies:
- Delta: 675 lbs, $1,867.58
- Athens: 675 lbs, $265.81
- Merrickville: 720 lbs, $75
- Portland: 1,595 lbs, $2,012
- Elgin: 1,350 lbs, $3,400.09
- Wesport: 2,700 lbs, $8,683.33
- Smiths Falls: 32,413 lbs, $4,326.25
- Perth: 20,855 lbs, $7,033.88
- Lanark: 1,425 lbs, $1,390.78