Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Food, glorious food.

Oliver Twist couldn’t have wanted more.

At 145 pounds per minute, Tuesday night’s Rotary Food Drive collected about 13,000 pounds of donations in 90 minutes.

That’s hundreds of bags picked up at doorsteps around the town by dozens and dozens and dozens of volunteer drivers and runner, including 21 Anglers Jr. A hockey players.

So calculates Lt. Kam Robinson, who was on the receiving end — with staff member Corinne Hall and a half dozen volunteers — at her end at the Salvation Army food bank on Muskoka Road.

Two hours earlier, at the Royal Canadian Legion, it was like a military operation as some 75 people — young and old, in school, working and long retired — marshalled under the command of general Bruce Dart, the Rotarian organizer who was in charge of directing his troops to fan out in the streets.

“And get some food.”

Dart emailed hours after the drive tonight that it was their best drive ever, with the most drivers, volunteers and food collected.

The sixth annual drive ran like clock work, a well-oiled machine that had cars and trucks and SUVs leaving in every direction — with hand-drawn maps of every street in every corner of the core.

Bay Street, Pineridge, the Wartime Houses, Muskoka Road  north and south ….

Vehicles and volunteers drove up and down as girl guides, boy scouts, elementary and high school students jumped in and out grabbing heavy, overflowing bags of food.

Plastic bags, paper bags, reusable bags, and cardboard boxes were filled with cereal, KD, peanut butter, tea, crackers, thousands of cans of vegetables, jars of pasta sauce for spaghetti noodles — and hundreds of pounds of fresh potatoes, carrots and produce.

The vehicle line-up at the Sally Ann was a non-stop parade on the main street, as the food was unloaded at the front and back doors in precision-like fashion with a half dozen carts wheeling in the through the doors and teens took turns carrying in sacks brimming with goodness and filled with love.

Smiles were on everyone’s faces as they worked briskly to keep traffic moving into early dark.

Dozens and dozens and dozens of deliveries kept on coming. Every time a couple of cars would leave, more would come.

Inside, the pile kept growing and spreading beneath tables left cleared ready for sorting the mounting tons of groceries in the community room.

By the quick end, the four aisles were hard to walk down as the mounding bags overflowed one another, brimming to the bottom of the tables that could easily been held up with their legs.

It was clear Gravenhurst’s generosity knows no bounds.

And that’s good, says food bank manager Hall, who says demand is up this year.

She says it will take a week to sort all the food and put it into boxes for distribution during the Tuesday, Thursday and Friday giveaway days.

Not bad for 90 minutes work.

Rotarian Bruce Dart welcome volunteers at the start of the Gravenhurst Rotary community food drive Tuesday night. He called it their best drive ever.

Email Mark Clairmont at


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