Students and staff at Delview Secondary are hard at work preparing for Thanks 4 Giving, the school’s massive annual food drive, but with ongoing pandemic-related restrictions, this year’s event will once again look quite different from what it did pre-COVID-19.
The one-night event, which was started by teachers Ron McNeill, Barb Woodford and Sandy Ferguson in 1992 under the name “Ten-in-One” (10,000 items collected in one night), typically sees hundreds of students and parents, and the school’s entire staff, come together to collect thousands of non-perishable food items — as well as recyclables and cash donations — from across North Delta, all to benefit the Surrey Food Bank and Deltassist.
Thanks 4 Giving (T4G for short) usually has the atmosphere of a block party, with excited conversations overlapping and intertwining with the upbeat music blaring from the gym. Teachers, parents, kids, community leaders and volunteers move about the school with purpose and passion, a smile on each and every face.
“This event really brings our school together and it brings all of the grades together working on it, (…) to know that you’re all helping people in the community,” said T4G committee member Alexa Liptak.
“Even though we are a very small school, we really do have a big heart.”
But as it was in 2020, the event is being pared down and transformed this year to conform with COVID-19 restrictions. Gone is the big party and army of volunteers, though the passion that has kept the event going for the past 29 years and made it a central part of life at the school remains.
“Because we’re unable to go out to all the houses and canvass the whole community like we usually do, we’re having a drive-thru like we did last year where cars can come to us and they can drop off recyclables, non-perishable food items and also [cash] donations,” Liptak said.
Like they did last year, COVID-19 restrictions limit the number of volunteers at the event to 50 — about a tenth of the turnout pre-pandemic to help collect, sort, count and box all the donated items.
Still, even with the change in format and far fewer volunteers, last year’s event was a success, collecting 13,276 non-perishable food items, over $10,000 in cash donations and about $700 worth of recyclables.
As of 8pm the @delview T4G annual event brought in 13,000 food items and over $10,000 in cash donations. Incredibly proud of our committee, staff, students and entire community. Thanks you to everyone that made this event a success. pic.twitter.com/G9XqbFootO
— Kevin Vasconcelos (@kvasc10) October 29, 2020
“We were expecting there would be less people [donating] just because they had to go out and come to us and in previous years we were able to actually go out and [collect the donations],” said T4G committee member Chahat Munjaral. “But we actually had a really good turn out. (…) It was just a really good energy overall.”
“When this first started we wanted to collect 10,000 cans in one night, and we beat that [last year], which was amazing,” said T4G committee member Gagan Mann. “We raised a lot of money as well, so it was very successful (…) but not as successful as in previous years.”
The last pre-COVID T4G, held in October 2019, collected 16,290 non-perishable food items, $1,205 in cash and several huge bins full of bottles and cans for recycling, besting the previous year’s total. The school set a high-water mark in 2017, collecting an incredible 26,411 items for the event’s 25th anniversary.
Organizers have also set up a donation box outside the school where people can drop off non-perishable food items between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. on school days.