Stuff-A-Cruiser runs this Saturday

By Ken Kellar
Staff writer

Holding true to the season of giving, another opportunity to help give those in need of a helping hand is approaching, this Saturday.

The annual Stuff-A-Cruiser will be held in multiple locations across the Rainy River District on Saturday, December 4, from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Event organizer Jennifer Kivimaki said that different emergency personnel and CN Police are volunteering their time to help take in donations of food items that will go to support local food banks.

“For the Stuff-A-Cruiser we’re going to have cruisers or emergency services’ vehicles at different locations,” Kivimaki explained.

“The OPP, Canada Border Services Agency, and the ambulance will be at Safeway, Walmart and the Place in Fort Frances, and then there will be a cruiser in Emo at Cloverleaf as well as one at Beaver Mills Market in Rainy River. The food collected at each location stays at the respective foodbank, so donations collected in Emo will stay in Emo, same with Rainy River. In Fort Frances it gets split between the Salvation Army and the United Native Friendship Centre (UNFC).”

Additionally this year the new Fort Frances Lakers team bus will be used to help gather donations from the cruisers in Fort Frances once they have reached their capacity.

“Once the cruiser is filled, the donations will go into the Lakers bus, which will then be used to distribute the food between the two food banks.”

A big part of the event each year, as is apparent by its name, is the fact that emergency service personnel from many of the different organizations operating in and around the district take part. Kivimaki said their participation is always a boon when it comes to organizing and holding the event.

“They’re amazing to partner with to try to help out those in need, especially at this time of year,” she said.

Kivimaki notes that it has been a busy year for food banks as the continuing impacts of COVID-19 are felt across the world, which makes charitable events like Stuff-A-Cruiser even more crucial.

“The demand for food bank usage has been increased, and I couldn’t even guess at how much since the start of the pandemic,” she said.

“Everyone is usually very thankful that the food bank is available to them. It’s a really great thing for the community, so we try to have things like bread and milk and a protein source, so it kind of caters to everybody. It’s open to anybody.”

In addition to those main staples, though, Kivimaki said that there are plenty of other items the public can consider donating during the event that will make a big difference to the families who receive them.

“Canned meats; tuna, chicken, ham, anything like that, are great,” Kivimaki said.

“So is peanut butter for those who may not have a fridge so they still have a source of protein. Easy to make  Kraft Dinner or Mr. Noodle cups. School snacks. Easy things like ‘Just Add Water’ pancake mix, because you don’t know what everybody has available to them to cook with. They might not have eggs or milk to add to things, though we try whenever we can to have those.”

A flyer provided by Kivimaki and the OPP list more items to donate like coffee, canned soup, baked beans, but also things like salt and pepper, spices, powdered milk and Stove Top stuffing.

The Stuff-A-Cruiser is set to run this Saturday and Kivimaki stressed just how important charitable events like this one and the many others held in the lead up to the holiday season are for people in the district.

“The cost of everything is going up and up and up, so it’s really amazing that we have things like the Stuff-A-Cruiser to help out,” Kivimaki said.

“The donations really count in our food bank and they get utilized by all walks of life.”