MRC PONTIAC – With the COVID pandemic persisting, Bouffe Pontiac, a local food distribution and support organization, has once again made the difficult decision to cancel their annual food drive.
Usually held in early December at multiple intersections throughout the MRC Pontiac, the drive is one of the organization’s biggest fundraisers, usually bringing in around $10,000 in cash donations and multiple non-perishable food items used to prepare Christmas baskets for the needy.
According to Kim Laroche, Bouffe director general, the decision was made for a number of reasons. About 75% of their volunteers are seniors, who are more vulnerable and must still take precautions to remain safe, meaning they would have a much smaller group of volunteers this year to manage the event. In addition, social distancing is difficult, it’s flu and cold season, and collectors can’t wear gloves or sanitize between vehicles.
Last year, the MRC Pontiac donated $10,000 to make up for the funds lost due to the drive’s cancellation, with Fondation Choquette-Legault chipping in an additional $1,000. This year, Fondation Choquette-Legault has donated the $10,000 needed, and the local Sûreté du Quebec station has committed to lending a hand to collect non-perishable food items.
According to SQ spokesperson Marc Tessier, the partnership started with one person’s idea, but the entire department jumped on board.
A drop-off point is available at the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) station, located at 1320 Highway 148 in Campbell’s Bay, until December 8. People can drop off food items Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All food collected will go directly to Bouffe Pontiac to prepare Christmas baskets.
Laroche explained that between 160 and 180 food baskets are generally prepared, but this year they are planning for up to 200 based on estimates of need they made throughout the year. Residents have until December 10 to request a basket by contacting Bouffe Pontiac at 819-648-2550. They have also partnered with the Mansfield Fire Department’s angel tree project to ensure the children of every family requesting a basket receives a gift.