An annual food drive organized by Lunenburg County first responders will eclipse $100,000 in fundraising - food and cash donations combined - over its 11-year tenure, if all goes according to plan.
The Great Haul-a-Day Food Drive is a Christmas season tradition, and one event that founder Nicole Monaghan looks forward to as a way to give back to the community where she works as a paramedic.
"We all know of someone who has been struggling, especially in this pandemic, and people have been struggling more than usual," she told LighthouseNOW. "This is a way to make sure members of our community aren't hungry."
Local paramedics, Bridgewater's municipal police force and Lunenburg County RCMP will be at the Atlantic Superstore in Bridgewater December 12 between 1 and 4:30 p.m., accepting monetary and non-perishable food donations in support of the town's inter-church food bank.
The idea is to stuff an off-duty emergency vehicle full of donations.
The first haul-a-day instalment yielded $3,000 worth of total contributions. Last year, the result was $20,000 in food and $1,124 in cash.
Support has grown steadily as businesses and other organizations challenge each other and try to out-donate each other year-after-year. As haul-a-day enters Year 12, the accumulated value of donations sits at $97,685.
Superstore, off Bridgewater's Davison Drive, has been the host site since the get-go.
"They sponsor us every year, and they do an internal food drive, which all goes to us," Monaghan said.
Law enforcement and paramedic personnel will be present December 12 but COVID-19 public health protocols will be in place, such as the two-metre distance and mask-wearing. There won't be prizes this year to reduce contact, Monaghan said.
For those who would be more comfortable giving to the cause in a different capacity, there is a no-contact option available at the Lunenburg County RCMP detachment in Cookville. A plastic storage tote will be left outside the location to accept drop-off donations until December 11.
On-duty police and paramedics may stop by in their respective marked vehicles to show support on December 12.
The genesis of haul-a-day was also a way for first responders to get to know and understand one another on an individual basis in a calm, casual setting, instead of during the fray of an emergency incident. And it affords the public positive interactions with police and paramedics, according to organizers.
"That's why we got into our corresponding professions, because we want to help people," Monaghan said, adding, "and it worked out to be a great thing."