Volunteers at the Vankleek Hill Food Bank are readying for the charity organization’s annual Christmas Basket campaign, with registration for baskets underway and a food collection planned for November 26.

Food bank volunteers are presently busy behind the scenes making preparations with the group’s extended partners for the collection, sorting, packing and distribution of Christmas hampers. Registration for Christmas Baskets has already started and will continue until the end of November.

Anyone in need who wishes to receive a Christmas Basket, is invited to call the Vankleek Hill Food Bank, Monday to Friday, at 613-678-8119 and leave a message with their name and phone number. A member of the Food Bank will call back and collect all the details required.

In 2021, the Vankleek Hill Food Bank provided 85 Christmas Baskets to local residents and organizers expect this year’s number to be about the same.

The Vankleek Hill Food Bank will be hosting its annual Food Collection on Saturday November 26, from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m., in front of Foodland on Highway 34, for residents of Vankleek Hill, East Hawkesbury, Chute-à-Blondeau, St-Eugène, Saint-Anne-de-Prescott, and St-Bernardin. Donations of non-perishable food items are welcome, or visitors can purchase a pre-filled bag from Foodland to donate.

The one-day food collection is boosted by collections also held during the month of November at local schools.

“We do the drive on November 26, but there are also mini-drives done in local schools,” commented Mike McGurk, co-director of the Vankleek Hill Food Bank. “They do a really good job of collecting for us.”

The Vankleek Hill Cougars, Hawkesbury detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police and the Hawkesbury Rotary Club hold their own collections each year to boost the Christmas Basket program. Foodland employees will also be holding a collection at Vankleek Hill’s Parade of Lights on December 2, with grocery push carts used to hold the donations.

“If anyone wants to bring a non-perishable food item to put in the carts, that would be fabulous,” McGurk said.

Donations can also be dropped off at the Vankleek Hill Food Bank’s Thrift Store, located at 124 Main Street East in Vankleek Hill, which is open on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The Food Bank accepts all non-perishable food items. There is always a need for personal care products, such as shampoo, conditioner, soap and deodorant. In the way of staple foods, products like peanut butter, Cheez Whiz, Kraft Dinner, instant coffee, tea, canned meats, canned fruit and vegetables, pasta sauce and pasta, diced tomatoes, crackers, cookies, cereal, legumes (chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, etc.) and canned or boxed soup. Also, such items as granola bars, pudding cups, apple sauce cups and fruit cups are always welcome.

Cash donations are a huge boost to the Vankleek Hill Food Bank’s Christmas Basket campaign and a tax receipt will be provided.