'2 Guys Can Drive' takes donations for third straight year

LaSalle resident Greg Martin dressed up as Santa Clause for a third straight year hoping to collect as much as he could for the LaSalle Food Bank.

Along with his friend and Reaume Chevrolet co-worker Paul Atherton, the 2 Guys Can Drive is set up on Front road until Sunday at 5pm.

"We don’t get paid to do this," said Martin. "We do it out of the kindness of our hearts for the love of the community."

The duo cheerfully thanked residents that dropped in with goods. The 48-hour event is a marathon but Martin says he’s more than willing to persevere for the cause.

“We have food on the table and there’s a lot less people that don’t have that."

The generosity is needed following Feed Ontario’s Hunger Report that highlights a ten percent increase in the use of food banks in Ontario in 2020. That’s the highest increase since the financial crash in 2009.

The report says six-hundred thousand adults and children accessed a foodbank between April of 2020 and March of 2021.

"Here in Windsor last year the UHC Hub of Opportunities served a 115,000 people," which June Muir says is an increase of 74%. The UHC CEO adds the Windsor Essex Food Bank Association served 166,000.

"The reason we were so busy was because many food banks had to close because it was a pandemic. They couldn’t keep to that social distancing rule," says Muir.

To keep up with demand a drive-thru was set up at Adie Knox Arena and is still operational with pick-ups on Tuesdays and Thursdays, "We are running out of boxes so we’re having to turn people away so that really tells us there’s a great need out there."

The UHC Hub helps out 15 food banks and about fifty organizations in need around Windsor Essex.

"We’ve got 44 men in our care and 11 women at our women’s home so we greatly depend on the food banks," says Elizabeth Geddes, executive director of Hand In Hand on Sandwich Street.

Geddes feels getting three meals a day is a big part of recovery from addiction.

"Unfortunately we’re seeing such a crisis in our city with the opioid epidemic so we’re out there doing what we can to save lives."

With inflation adding to the stress caused by the pandemic Muir feels food tends to drop lower on the priority list when financial challenges arise.

"They want to keep their heat on. They want to pay their rent. They’re just trying to keep up with the cost of living."