Muskoka Oldtimers Fall Food Drive 2013 – October 8

Muskoka Oldtimers Fall Food Drive 2013 – October 8

Manna LogoLong-time organizer Dave Salmon prepares to hang up his skates

Bracebridge, September 30, 2013–  In case you haven’t heard about it on the Moose, seen it on banners around town, in the papers or in the notices your kids are bringing home from school, it’s that time of year again.

The Muskoka Oldtimers Hockey Club is gearing up for its annual Fall Food Drive for the Manna Food Bank, set for October 8. On that evening, dozens of volunteers in hockey jerseys will go door-to-door around Bracebridge collecting non-perishable food donations for the Manna Food Bank, just as they’ve done every year for nearly two decades now.

But this year will be a little different. It is the last for Dave Salmon, who has spearheaded the drive since it started close to 20 years ago. “I think this will be my last year,” says Salmon, who next year is looking forward to taking a little autumn downtime for a change.

Dave was president of the Muskoka Oldtimers about two decades ago when he, fellow Oldtimers Lanny McQuaig, Ken Silcox and a few others, noticed what a great job the firemen were doing collecting food in Huntsville at Christmastime. Doing good in the community has always been an important part of the Oldtimers’ mandate, and the group decided to start up something similar in Bracebridge, selecting the Manna Food Bank as the beneficiary.

The Oldtimers Fall Food Drive has become by far the most important food drive in the year for the Manna Food Bank, and it has also become a significant source of monetary donations as well. Most of the community is aware of it, many donate non-perishable food items or cash, and volunteers come out in droves from all parts of the community.

“Every year it gets a little easier because there’s more and more people that have a bag of food already out on the porch,” says fellow food drive founder Lanny McQuaig. “It’s not only faster, but people have an opportunity to put more thought into what they’re donating,” he adds, noting that some go out and buy specific things just for the food drive.

“We talked about this at our last meeting,” says Manna board member Garry Thompson. “In contemporary figures we think it’s in the range of $25,000 to $30,000 worth of food that is donated on that one night. And Dave’s been doing it for years. When you add it up, it’s got to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not only that, but Dave and his team have inspired hundreds of school children and other community members to participate in the food drive. It’s phenomenal.”

The Next Generation

Predictably, the group has a succession plan in place, with Rob Fraser, a younger Oldtimer and teacher at Watt Public School, preparing to take over for Salmon next year. “When Dave decided it was time to step aside, at our last meeting it was put out there, ‘Is there anybody who would like to take over the reins?’ I put myself forward,” says Fraser. “He’s been doing it for so long that it is such a well-oiled machine that once we started I felt more at ease with the task at hand.

“But still,” he adds, “these are big shoes to fill; Dave’s got so much history and contact in the community, I think my big challenge will be just to maintain the contacts over time. Oftentimes in the volunteer world, people volunteer because they know the person who’s running it really well.”

Certainly between the students, the churches, the community groups, and the many others who volunteer and donate, Salmon can take satisfaction in having built a legacy that touches most everyone in this community.

Anyone wishing to make a donation who has been missed or wants to donate later can either drop their non-perishable food contribution off at YIGs or Metro or phone the food bank at 646-0114 for pick-up.