Delview Secondary is gearing up for its 25th annual Thanks For Giving campaign, and organizers are setting a lofty goal for this year: 25,000 donated cans or non-perishable food items.
“That’s more aspirational, so whatever we get would be great,” said Jonathan Kung, a Thanks For Giving teacher-sponsor.
The one-night food drive has become an annual tradition at the North Delta school, and for the community at large.
On Oct. 26, Thanks For Giving will see teams of students go out that night and canvass homes in North Delta for non-perishable food donations, starting around 5 p.m. and going until 8:30 or 9 p.m.
Once the donations start coming in, the counting begins. Normally, the school collects around 15,000 to 20,000 items; the record of 22,009 was set in 2014. The next morning, two trucks arrive to take the donations to the Surrey Food Bank and Deltassist Family and Community Services Society.
This year, because of 25,000 goal, the school is doing more donation gathering in advance. But the focus remains on that one night drive to collect as many cans as possible, the same as when it started back in 1992.
Lindsay Bochen has been involved with Thanks For Giving since its inception: first as a student, and now as a teacher-sponsor.
“It was a lot smaller scale for sure,” Bochen said about the first Thanks For Giving campaign, back then called Ten-in-One, because the goal was to get 10,000 cans in one night. “But the teachers that came up with it were super popular teachers and just really got the whole school involved.”
“I just really remember the whole night being super exciting and lots of fun,” she continued. “A lot of my friends still talk about it being such a good experience here.”
Over the years, Bochen said, the event has gotten bigger with more people participating and more food items being donated. It’s also become more of a student-driven event, rather than a teacher-driven one. But really, the essence of the food drive has stayed the same.
“It’s still something that gets all groups of kids out,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re part of the popular group or not, or you’re an athlete, or whatever.
“That’s kind of the cool thing about the event — it’s the only event that everyone comes out to do.”
The food drive has also become an important part of the school culture, with many Grade 8 students joining in. That’s when Thanks For Giving committee member Khushi Dabla first got involved with Thanks For Giving.
“It just sounded like fun and my friends wanted to,” Dabla said. “And then when we saw how much we’re helping others — like when the Deltassist and Surrey Food Bank leaders come make speeches, they show us how important this is to them. So that’s part of it too.”
Now in Grade 12, Dabla is a member of the Thanks For Giving committee, a group of around 15 students who organize the annual food drive with the help of a few teachers.
When this year’s Thanks For Giving gets underway on Oct. 26, members of the community including Mayor Lois Jackson, Delta School District superintendents and school board trustees, and the founders of the event will be present for the 25th annual counting.
“There’s not too many things that are school related that have been around for 25 years,” Kung said. “Out of all the traditions you could have, one that actually helps the community — that’s huge.”