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Bracebridge first responders head door to door for those in need

Members of the Bracebridge community, including Mayor Rick Maloney, participate in the annual Door-to-Door Food Drive on Mon. Dec. 4, 2023 (CTV News/Chris Garry). Members of the Bracebridge community, including Mayor Rick Maloney, participate in the annual Door-to-Door Food Drive on Mon. Dec. 4, 2023 (CTV News/Chris Garry).
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As a growing number of locals are struggling to keep their heads above water financially, residents of South Muskoka came together Monday to help their own.

On Monday evening, Bracebridge firefighters, paramedics, and politicians rallied together with other community groups for the annual Door-to-Door Food Drive. Once they heard the sirens coming, residents would head outside with their donations in hand, passing them off to one of many volunteers tasked with the collection efforts.

"This is a great community event leading into the Christmas season and quite frankly just shows the power of the season in terms of people wanting to give, people wanting to support those that are struggling," Bracebridge Mayor Rick Maloney said to CTV News.

The event has been taking place for more than 25 years, says Maloney. In addition to the politicians and first responders, many sports teams, scouting groups, city staff, church congregations and college students also volunteered some of their time.

All donations collected went to the Salvation Army South Muskoka Food Bank, which is seeing the demand for its services rise weekly.

"One of the big things that we're noticing is people living in hotels with nowhere to cook or nowhere to prepare their meals, so we're having to come up with new ideas on how do we best serve the people when they don't have a place to prepare their meals," said Lt. Brandon Keeping of the local Salvation Army.

With food prices rising, Keeping says its clientele is shifting to include many families, elderly people and single men.

"A night like this one, it stocks our shelves hopefully as long as we can into the rest of the year," said Keeping. "But this is probably the biggest night where we get to show the community what we're about but also give the community a chance to give back."

Despite the chilly temperatures and hectic schedules, many have this time of year, the mayor says it's never a challenge finding volunteers.

"A lot of times we see our first responders, our fire department respond with lights and sirens for emergencies; in this case, it's all about goodwill," said Maloney. "To see the Bracebridge firefighters and the community working together, to see them walking down residential streets, to see them engaging with our community members, our residents, I tell you it is just one big community event."

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