Giving is an Ability

Published Tuesday, November 15, 2005

One of our greatest abilities is the ability to give. We are capable of giving of ourselves, our time, our skills, and for some, our money.

Vicki Travis knows what it is to give. When Vicki was a stay-at-home mum and foster parent she used any available time to volunteer. As her children became older she started looking for new challenges, such as working with the MS Society in Chilliwack to organize five annual fundraising events.

Earlier this year Vicki applied, and was accepted, to become the executive director at the local Friends in Need Food Bank. After two months on the job, and learning about the day to day operation of the food bank, Vicki is excited about this new chapter in her life. “It has been an interesting progression from being a volunteer to being in the position I am in now. I feel like I’ve been rewarded for my years of volunteering with this job.”

The Friends in Need Food Bank has grown from an operation run by two woman working out of their basement in Pitt Meadows, to a warehouse in Maple Ridge where staff and volunteers help 1,500 people monthly.

The food hampers, which are distributed monthly to pre-registered clients, act as a way for people to fill in a gap. Each hamper has enough food for three or four days. In addition to the food hampers Friends in Need distributes bread to clients Monday to Thursday of every week. The bread is donated by local businesses and is available on a first come, first serve basis. Last year alone the Friends in Need Food Bank distributed 100,000 lbs. of food.

Vicki finds the food bank’s ability to help others immensely satisfying. “I am very fortunate that at the end of the day I know that I’ve made a difference, even if only for one person.”

One of the reasons that the Friends in Need Food Bank is a success is the volunteers. Vicki has been very impressed with the commitment of the volunteers and commented, “I work with an incredible bunch of volunteers who are very dedicated.”

People often wonder how they can help organizations such as the Friends in Need Food Bank. Vicki explains that there are many ways to give. Food and cash donations are appreciated and can be dropped off at the warehouse.

Local grocery stores have B.C. Share coupons at the checkout counter. You simply add the two dollar coupon to your grocery bill. All the money raised within Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows goes directly to the Friends in Need Food Bank.

The food bank has greater buying power than the average consumer and is able to turn every dollar donated into three dollars worth of food for their hampers.

Donations of your time are appreciated as well. If you unable to volunteer on a regular basis you can set up a special event which raises funds for the Friends in Need Food Bank.

Friends in Need also accepts donations of used ink jet cartridges which are sent to Ontario for a program called thINK. Friends in Need receives two to three dollars per cartridge.

For those who question how a donation, even of just one dollar, can help, Vicki explains “one dollar may not seem like a lot to you, but that one dollar may make all the difference to someone else.”

For more information on how to help, or how to register for the food hampers, contact the Friends in Need Food Bank at 604.463.1736, or check out their web site at