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Mayor joins RCMP, Burnaby Neighbourhood House for charity drive

The “Cram the Cruiser” charity drive collected cash and food donations on Dec. 19

Hundreds of Burnaby residents stopped by the RCMP and Burnaby Neighbourhood House booth today in front of the entrance of Real Canadian Superstore in the Metropolis at Metrotown mall. Many of them brought various packaged food items; canned beans, cereal, and pasta were some of the most popular items and placed them into the large food donation box. 

Burnaby resident places a food donation in the collection box. Photo: Lubna El Elaimy

Others dropped cash donations into the collection box placed on the table in front of the RCMP officers who organized and oversaw the food drive. Right outside the mall’s Kingsway entrance a cruiser and van were parked and another group of officers collected more food donations to cram into their vehicles. 

“I think it’s a fabulous initiative, and of course they’re doing this on their own time, so they’re really stepping up and helping a community in need. They probably see that need as much as anyone else because they’re out in the community day in and day out. I just thank the RCMP and their leadership for taking this on and it’s a wonderful initiative,” said Mayor Mike Hurley, who attended the charity event with Coun. Richard Lee. 

“I’m here to support the initiative, but also to make a donation and to encourage others to give where they can, every little bit helps. A dollar here, a dollar there, adds up to something really important. I think we can all step up a little bit to help,” Hurley added. 

Kimberly Barwich, program director at Burnaby Neighbourhood House (BNH) was also present at the event. She told the Beacon that when BNH started its first food hub in North Burnaby in 2018, the plan was for it to be a temporary activity. “Which it has not turned into. Unfortunately the need continues to grow. For example, recently we have had to stop new registrations at our south location because we’re running out of food,” said Barwich. “People are really, really struggling. Food bank usage has gone way up, among seniors we have a large number of seniors who come to the food bank. It’s not a need that has gone away, in fact it continues to increase.” 

Front row L-R: Coun. Richard Lee, BNH program director Kimberly Barwich, Superstore employee and BNH CEO Antonia Beck (right) with RCMP officers and Mayor Mike Hurley (back centre). Photo: Lubna El Elaimy

Last month, Barwich spoke with the Beacon about the crisis the BNH food hub is facing with rising food prices and skyrocketing inflation. “On a weekly basis, if you come to one of our food hubs, you’ll see an addition of five to 10 new people every single week. And that has not slowed down,” Barwich said. “If the food hub is open till 4, by the time 3 rolls around, we may have considerably less food available,” she added. 

The RCMP officers, Barwich and Hurley were all very pleased with the reaction from the public at today’s charity collection. “The officers really enjoy it and they feel like they’re really making a difference,” Hurley said, “I encourage everyone to come out and donate to the food bank and make a difference.” 

If you were not able to catch them today, the RCMP Cram the Cruiser drive will be in North Burnaby tomorrow Dec. 20 in front of Safeway Burnaby Heights at 4440 Hastings St. You can also donate online at Burnaby Neighbourhood House or drop by the food hub and make a food donation at their locations in North and South Burnaby

This piece was made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

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