CORNER BROOK — Myrtle Penney started volunteering with the Bay of Islands Food Bank Network 18 years ago, and never looked back.
Penney first started as a church representative for the network’s board of directors, and is now the longest-standing member.
“Every year they ask if I wanted to volunteer for one more year,” she said. “I did it, not realizing that many years went by. It’s amazing.”
At the time, she was only one of a few community members on the board that was mostly comprised of church ministers.
Since then the shape of the board has changed, with only one minister among all community members.
Yet, the network’s intention has stayed the same.
For almost two decades, Penney said she gets immense joy from helping those in need.
Between her board duties, she also spent six years working at a food bank outlet.
“I really enjoyed it. It’s helping people in the city that are in need,” she said.
In her time with the food bank, needs of the Bay of Islands community has not changed much, she said.
Penney said, it appears families’ needs for the food bank remains fairly constant.
Joy Connors, co-ordinator with the network, said community donations are vital to its success.
Last year the network had 1,483 requests, that fed 634 families in the Bay of Islands area, said Connors.
Each family can request one food basket, worth approximately $95, every eight weeks, she said.
The limitations are to protect the food stock, but each family is asessed individually and some exceptions are made, said Connors.
The network has two locations, at the Salvation Army building on Herald Avenue and 469 Curling St.
Today the network will hold its annual Christmas in July food drive.
Connors said the last drive was in December, which mean the six-month gap has left food stocks very low.
The June food drive is necessary to meet community needs and supply people with food until the Thanksgiving blitz, she said.
City residents are asked to place neon tags, they received in the mail, on a bag with non-perishable items at a visible location.
Approximately 300 volunteers will hit the streets this evening at 630 p.m. to collect the items.
Suggestions include: flour, canned fruit, canned vegetables, tomato sauce, pasts, rice, cereal, peanut butter, canned tuna or chicken, canned beans, oatmeal or macaroni and cheese.