By JAYMIE L. WHITE
Special to the Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE — The People of the Dawn Indigenous Friendship Center (PDIFC) food donation drive began on Nov. 22, collecting non-perishable food items for people who need a bit of extra help during the holidays. Patrick Park-Tighe said the program is a work in progress right now.
“We’ve done a number of things in the community, whether it was back to school supplies, or tech for post-secondary students, and everything that keeps coming back to us is that we just can’t meet the demand,” said Park-Tighe. “We were running a food and essentials delivery service right up until the end of August, and even there it just couldn’t keep up with the need, and the problem is that there is only so much funding available to keep delivering that, so we decided that Christmas is one of those times. If we can’t do it in a sustained way, at least we can give people some relief during the holidays.”
A collaboration between groups might be on the horizon.
“Everybody is in their own areas, recognizing the need and trying to address it, and suddenly we realize we’ve all got a similar idea. Now if we can just get together, we can really broaden our reach and do a bigger, better job of it,” said Park-Tighe. “Hopefully, if we can all get on the same page here, we will be able to service more people and address more of their needs.”
Another difficulty is identifying the people who truly need it in an efficient and fair way.
“It’s not an easy thing because it’s very hard to manage people’s privacy but still be able to assess if they really need it,” said Park-Tighe. “We’ve already sent out an email to our community partners, whoever we could think of that would have front-line contact with people in need. And by relying on them, they could refer directly to us the people they have a relationship with .”
Donations will be solicited until mid-December to build up an inventory while leaving enough time for packing and delivery.
“We are looking for additional funding right now and we don’t know how that will impact things, so we may have a few more resources that we didn’t expect closer to the holiday season.”
If additional funding is obtained, PDIFC may look at other food items such as dairy and meat; however, for the time being, the food donation drive is accepting only non-perishable food items.
“It’s supposed to be a festive time. It’s supposed to be a time to celebrate, a time for family. And when you realize you don’t have the most basic items, it makes it harder,” said Park-Tighe. “We know that we’ve got enough issues with mental health right now in the community. This is one more stress, so if we can offer a little bit of relief and give people that little extra during this time, hopefully it will make a different holiday season for them.”
For drop off locations, visit the People of the Dawn Indigenous Friendship Center Facebook page or call (709) 643-3902, or visit the Friendship Centre in Stephenville between 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.