The Gift does it again

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Michelle Wilken prepares to unload a vehicle stuffed with goods from the recent Gift collection.

It’s the Gift that keeps on giving.

Volunteers with The Gift took to the streets of Chatham-Kent Nov. 18 to collect food and toys for those in need.

Brent Wilken, organizer of the event, said the collections went very well across the municipality.

“Saturday was great. Even more communities are taking more ownership,” he said. “Most communities had door-to-door pickup.”

Volunteers went along neighbourhood streets and collected any food or toys left out on front porches by residents at noon on Nov. 18.

Each community controls the distribution of items within itself. Items collected in Blenheim, for example, stay in Blenheim for residents in need within that community.

Wilken said volunteer support for the day was “amazing” as well.

“There is such commitment all over,” he said. “It feels like something powerful has been solidified now.”

The Gift arose in November 2020 in the middle of the pandemic, and has continued every November since.

“The Gift is here for years to come. That’s what we thought before and this year proved it,” Wilken said.

Donations this year were heavy on the food side, Wilken said.

“Because of the struggling, people want to be sure others are fed,” he said.

The Gift was also without a home until the last minute, with no place to house the collected items or to host people to come and grab what they need.

Mojo Drywall

However, Wilken said the giving nature of the community changed all that.

“We ended up with two excellent locations. Mojo Drywall on Given Road just built a huge barn for their operation. They had not filled it out completely. That was our main depot,” he said.

The other location is on Siemens Drive just off Park Avenue East beside Vitesco.

Storing of goods collected in Chatham will take place on Siemens Drive, while the sorting and “shopping,” as Wilken calls the distribution of items, will take place at Mojo.

Pickup dates for those needing items will be announced shortly, Wilken said, once the sorting is complete.

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