Volunteers enjoy social interaction with return of Cyclone Aid

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It’s still not quite what it was as far as in-person contact goes, but it’s getting there.

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Cyclone Aid, St. Patrick’s Catholic High School’s annual food drive for Sarnia’s Good Shepherd Inn, returned on Saturday with an army of volunteers at three drop-off locations.

Before the pandemic, students went door to door asking residents for donations. They still couldn’t make it on Saturday, but unlike the past two years, students were allowed to congregate inside the Rapids Parkway school auditorium and sort through the various products together.

“It’s nice to have that interaction,” said teacher Amanda Cimetta.

Another teacher, Victoria Devlin, said it was good to physically involve the pupils – they estimated there were around 50.

“Because they are actually part of the legacy of Cyclone Aid,” she said. “It’s more of a hands-on implication now, which is good.”

Myles Vanni, executive director of Auberge du Bon Pasteur, agrees.

“It’s just nice to be back doing that, to have the kids engaged,” he said while helping sort food into boxes. “It’s been two long years, so it’s good to see them involved again.”

Good Shepherd Inn General Manager Myles Vanni and St. Anne’s Catholic Elementary School Grade 6 student Matthew Borody sort through donations during the Cyclone Aid food drive for Good Shepherd Inn in Sarnia on Saturday, April 9, 2022 in Sarnia, Ontario. Terry Bridge/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network Photo by Terry Bridge /Terry Bridge / The Watcher

St. Pat’s Youth and Teen Group as well as feeder schools such as nearby St. Anne’s Catholic Primary School.

“It’s been busy,” said Tristan Hrycajczuk, a 17-year-old St. Pat’s student in grade 12.

From left, Harrison Goetz, a 3rd grade student from St. Anne's Catholic Elementary School, and Tristan Hrycajczuk, a 12th grade student from St. Patrick's Catholic High School, collect donations during the fundraiser St. Pat's Cyclone Aid food for Sarnia's Inn of the Good Shepherd on Saturday, April 9, 2022 in Sarnia, Ont.  Terry Bridge/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network
From left, Harrison Goetz, a 3rd grade student from St. Anne’s Catholic Elementary School, and Tristan Hrycajczuk, a 12th grade student from St. Patrick’s Catholic High School, collect donations during the fundraiser St. Pat’s Cyclone Aid food for Sarnia’s Inn of the Good Shepherd on Saturday, April 9, 2022 in Sarnia, Ont. Terry Bridge/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network Photo by Terry Bridge /Terry Bridge / The Watcher

In pre-pandemic years, the event typically collected around 11,000 kilograms of food for the local nonprofit. Vanni said he didn’t expect this year’s transportation to be so large without being able to go door-to-door.

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“Hopefully we can get around 8,000 (pounds). It would be good. We would be happy with that,” he said.

To help reach this total, food was also collected at the Real Canadian Superstore in Sarnia and Foodland in Bright’s Grove. A truck was driving and picking up donations to take back to school for the volunteers to sort through.

Sisters Ilianna Mestancik, 6, and Maia Mestancik, 8, collect donations from Inn of the Good Shepherd volunteer Bill Chapple outside the Real Canadian Superstore during the Cyclone Aid food drive on Saturday April 9, 2022 in Sarnia, Ontario.  Terry Bridge/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network
Sisters Ilianna Mestancik, 6, and Maia Mestancik, 8, collect donations from Inn of the Good Shepherd volunteer Bill Chapple outside the Real Canadian Superstore during the Cyclone Aid food drive on Saturday April 9, 2022 in Sarnia, Ontario. Terry Bridge/Sarnia Observer/Postmedia Network Photo by Terry Bridge /Terry Bridge / The Watcher

Once the event is over – it ran from 9 a.m. to noon – the final tally will stay at the school for a few days before being picked up at the end of next week.

“So the kids can see the impact,” Devlin said.

Vanni said the community’s food needs have leveled off lately, but events like this and the recent Canstruction help stock the warehouse ahead of the summer months, when donations tend to slow.

“What we’re getting now, we’re really trying to stretch to get through the summer,” he said.

tbridge@postmedia.com

@ObserverTerry



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