The annual “guignolée” (food drive) put on by the Fort-Coulonge Knights of Columbus was a resounding success this year, according to knight Ken Hobbs.
The collection got underway on Friday night (December 17), with around 60 people going door-to-door throughout Fort-Coulonge and Mansfield to gather cash and food items from residents. Meanwhile, back at the hall, another 20-30 volunteers set about the work of organizing boxes of goods for individual families. The group includes both Knights and other members of the community.
Hobbs said that by the end of the night, they had 98 or 99 boxes ready to go, which is roughly what they aim for each year. He said that the contents of each box vary, but the Knights ensure that each box has the staples (turkey, potatoes, milk, eggs, etc.) and fill up the rest with donations like canned soup or pasta.
He said that local food bank Bouffe Pontiac helps acquire the names of families in the region that require assistance, along with staff at the local primary school and other helpers in the community. Volunteers prepare the boxes until the wee hours, and then on Saturday morning the families come to the hall and pick them up. Hobbs added that they also deliver some boxes to elders or those without transport.
The money goes towards the staple items that the Knights purchase, but some is also kept in reserve for those in need throughout the rest of the year. This year’s tally hasn’t been calculated yet, as there are still some donations coming in, but Hobbs said that last year they raised between $7,500-8,000.
The guignolée is a long-standing institution in the community and Hobbs said that it was heartwarming to witness multiple generations of families make a tradition out of the event.
The full interview with Hobbs is available here.