Cyclone Aid aims to ‘close the gap’ with food drive this Saturday

'Friendly competition' with Irish Miracle means one thing: community's hungry will be the real winners

Pictured from left are: Linda Ward, trustee with the St. Clair Catholic School Board, student co-chairs Izzy Kokkinis and Beth Schoenmaker; and Director of Education Deb Crawford (photo courtesy St. Clair Catholic School Board).

Joseph Palko, the head of chaplaincy services at St. Patrick’s Catholic High School in Sarnia, is more than a little excited about the upcoming Cyclone Aid that will take place on Saturday, March 24.

The event is now in its 17th year.

With an expected 30,000 pounds of food likely to be collected between 8:30 a.m. and around 1 p.m., there’s also a little bit of “friendly competition” going on between Cyclone Aid volunteers and those involved in the Irish Miracle, a similar food drive that takes place in December.

Joseph Palko, head of chaplaincy at St. Patrick’s High School, is “very much” looking forward to the upcoming Cyclone Aid food drive that takes place this Saturday. It’s a bit of “friendly competition” between supporters of the former St. Christopher’s High School and the original Irish Miracle food drive, which takes place in December.

But direct comparisons between the two events are difficult, says Palko, who serves as a “cheerleader” for both food drives.

“With Irish Miracle, we count bags, but the Cyclone Aid contributions are weighed by the Inn of the Good Shepherd,” he says. It is also distinctive in that all the food collected comes back to the school; with the Irish Miracle, there are various stations throughout the area.

Irish Miracle donations were distributed through St. Vincent de Paul, another difference between the two events.

That said, the end result is students from St. Patrick’s, which amalgamated with St. Christopher’s High School a few years ago, exercising a spirit of helping those who are less fortunate in the community.

At least 300 students, as well as teachers and parents of the students, will team up to canvass neighbourhoods in Sarnia and Point Edward. Food donations can also be dropped off between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the school, which is located on Rapids Parkway.

The food collected typically will last about a month at the Inn of the Good Shepherd food bank.

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