Rocky View County residents looking for a way to give back to the community have the opportunity to volunteer with the Helping Hands Society of Cochrane and Area, which is currently recruiting for its upcoming bi-annual food drive Sept. 16.
“We have a lot of individuals in Cochrane who just don’t have the support they used to have,” said Sandra Scott, administrative assistant with Helping Hands. “This is our way of making sure neighbours are helping neighbours. It’s what we used to do, but now, people don’t necessarily even know who their neighbours are.”
According to Scott, the organization was formed in 2007 to address this issue after it was brought forward by a group of concerned individuals – primarily those from faith communities. A volunteer network was created to help facilitate communication between churches and local social service agencies to identify people who were “falling through the cracks” and needed additional help.
“We cover everything – visiting seniors, delivering groceries to someone who can’t get them on their own, shoveling snow, mowing someone’s lawn, doing handyman work,” Scott said. “It’s been really important for this area.”
In 2014, the organization was granted society status and took over the community’s food drive. According to Scott, the Church of Latter Day Saints had been running the annual event, but due to the town’s rapid growth, the food drive became too large for one organization to take on.
“We’ve been doing it ever since,” Scott said. “And starting in 2015, we began holding the food drive bi-annually, in both September and April.”
This major undertaking requires a huge commitment from the community, Scott said. More than 500 volunteers are needed to ensure the food drive runs smoothly. Since the two drives supply 90 per cent of all the food used by the food bank in their hampers throughout the year, Scott said it’s essential people step up and help out.
“I truly believe that a human being gets more out of life if they give to others,” Scott said. “I think a lot of people struggle or feel unhappy, but I really think the best way to get out of that situation is to volunteer and help improve someone else’s life. It’s a great way to get a little perspective.”
Currently, Scott said there are about 50 volunteers who regularly help out when needed – but as the community continues to grow, she admitted that number will need to expand to 125 or 150. While the organization welcomes volunteers for other services, like helping people move to a new home or driving them to appointments, Scott said volunteering for the food drive is especially important.
“We’re really always looking for volunteers. These needs will grow along with the community, especially as the economy declines and our population gets older,” she said. “Volunteering really makes a huge difference in our community, and it makes you feel so good about yourself and where you live.”
For more information, or to volunteer, visit helpinghandscochrane.ca