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Cape Breton food bank receives much-anticipated food donation


With a police escort, a truckload of food from Prince Edward Island arrived bright and early Saturday morning at the Glace Bay Food Bank.

"The biggest load ever that we've ever had,” said Mickey McNeil, the Cape Breton organizer of what has been a gesture of holiday kindness between one Island and another for years.

Inside the cab was dozens of 50-pound bags of potatoes, along with 500 pounds each of carrots and turnip to help those in need have Christmas dinner.

A second truck contained roughly 9,000 cans of milk, which is a lot considering McNeil's annual milk drive wasn't looking so good just weeks ago.

"This year, what was on the table there might have been six two-fours of milk - that's it. I said 'Oh boy, this is going to be our worst year yet,” McNeil recalled. “Then, cheques started rolling in and it just became unbelievable. $14,000 or so worth of food is a lot of food."

In a show of teamwork, minor hockey players from the Glace Bay Miners U18 AA team formed an assembly line to haul all of the food and milk inside.

Their work cut an unloading job that used to take two-to-three hours down to half-an-hour.

"It helps a lot. I think all the boys know that,” said player Tyler McNeil.

"We do a lot of fundraising and stuff in the community and the community gives to us, so it's our turn to give back,” said coach Darrell MacAulay.

The food bank's coordinator said given the cost of living and their rising client numbers, this year's donations will go a particularly long way.

"I'm hoping I can stretch it,” said Linda MacRae. “I think our numbers are so high now and we're hoping to get through at least until the spring, but we're getting new registrations five, six, seven a day."

When asked how she felt about the many people who made Saturday’s drop-off possible, MacRae didn’t hold back her praise.

"They are my angels,” she said. “Like, really. I don't even know if they understand."

As for McNeil’s efforts this holiday season, it turns out he isn’t finished.

"In the first, (or) second week of December, we start our chicken drive,” he said.

After this food drive's bounce-back from a slow start, McNeil said he’s simply hoping that people looking to donate this time of year will continue to keep the cause in mind.

"We're doing something good, and hopefully we can just continue on doing it,” McNeil said. “Hopefully it's even bigger next year than it is this year."

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