Dawn Butt and George Sebastian on Dec. 7, show off some of the food donations collected in the 2021 Canstruction campaign. (Photo: Norman Galimski/The Northern View)

By Norman Galimski, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Prince Rupert’s newest holiday food drive, Canstruction, began building a lighthouse out of donated canned foods for the Salvation Army Food Bank, on Dec. 6.

The project is the brainchild of George Sebastian, an ILWU 505 member, who petitioned the union for 10 years to host the event. He was inspired 10 years ago when he witnessed how a Richmond company hosted an annual creative construction project to raise money and collect food and clothing donations for those in need.

The project in its first year and hosted by ILWU 505, has collected more than $7,000 in donations thanks to contributions from DP World, Prince Rupert Lions Club and the local union, which provided a total of $4,500.

Canstruction is collecting non-perishable foods as well as unopened toys, winter coats and new men’s, women’s and children’s undergarments. Cash donations are also accepted and will go toward purchasing goods.

Sebastian’s passion behind the project stems from his childhood experience being raised by a single mother.

George Sebastian and Dawn Butt on Dec. 7 (Photo: Norman Galimski/The Northern View)

“I’m always happy to help people. My mom raised six kids by herself, and we had hunger,” he said.

The new initiative comes when there is more need this year than usual for the foodbank, Dawn Butt, Salvation Army church pastor, told The Northern View.

“As much as we are tired of hearing about it, [COVID] plays a part,” Butt said.

Employers can only adapt to so many changes, she said. The increase in rent and lack of affordable housing have played a large role in people needing the Food Bank’s services.

“When those things happen, it puts a strain on the whole family and people need a roof over their head and they also need to eat. So, it’s kind of a trickle-down effect,” Butt said. “I talked to one person yesterday and they said their entire paycheque goes to paying rent and they’re the only person in their family that’s able to work.”

Last year the Salvation Army helped more than 360 kids, but this year it looks like they will have to help a number between 500 and 600.

Butt has seen many people using the Food Bank for the first time and many more returning who have not used it for a long time.

“It’s been non-stop in registering people and getting hampers ready to give out,” she said.

The public can find Canstruction and the Salvation Army kettle on the top floor of the Rupert Square Mall until Dec. 17 to make any donations.

This item is reprinted with permission from Prince Rupert Northern View, Prince Rupert, British Columbia. See article HERE.

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