Alex Boy executive director for Greener Village, holding the reverse advent calendar with many of the items that could be donated. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

The holiday food drive at Greener Village is taking on a new look this year by introducing a reverse advent calendar initiative to encourage food donations.

The food bank suggests donating an item out of your cupboards for each day in December, similar to an advent calendar. Once the box is complete, it can be donated to Greener Village, where volunteers will add Christmas-themed items.

Alexa English, volunteer and project coordinator at Greener Village, said the difference between the reverse advent calendar and the regular food box from Greener Village is that this is the Christmas version.

“A Christmas version that has the turkey and all the extras, and the reverse advent calendar is making up the base portion of the box before the turkey and other items are added,” said English.

The idea came from a message Greener Village received on its Facebook page, which English then took to the food bank manager as an idea for December donations.

Ketchup, peanut butter, cereal and mayonnaise are many of the items that could be donated and later added to the donation boxes. (Daniel Salas/AQ)

Last year, Greener Village serviced between 900 and 1,000 families a month, according to English. This year, Greener Village has expanded to serving 1,400 a month. Food is in high demand around Christmas and Greener Village hands out two times the amount of food in December.

“A lot of people think it’s people who are strictly homeless,” said English. “But we also service the working single parent, the person on disability who can’t work, the person on social assistance [and] the student who is paying so much rent they can’t afford to eat.”

Those 1,400 families make up over 3,000 people coming from a variety of backgrounds.

“We’re operating [with] 40 per cent more clients than we did this time last year,” English said. “That, to us, is really large.”

Greener Village and its clients are still feeling the impacts of the pandemic through inflation and supply issues. English said the charity has completely used up its budget for the year, in part due to fuel costs.

Several businesses, including Tim Hortons, have joined the initiative and are running the reverse advent calendar in the community.

This holiday season, Greener Village is looking firstly for donations to the reverse advent calendar, but also monetary donations and volunteers. English said they are always looking for more partnerships within the community.

“It’s actually turned into this really big snowball effect. It’s really going to benefit us because we need to make up 1,000 or more Christmas boxes,” said English.