MIDDLETON - If you see a police car at your local grocery store, lights flashing, it’s probably not what you think -- at least not this time of year.
Annapolis District RCMP have been serving the community recently by collecting food for the hungry at stores in Bridgetown and Middleton and there’s one more chance to help them help others.
They call it Cram the Cruiser and Const. David Fairfax has been manning the events with help from community partners such as Family Matters and their own community programs officer Adam Burns.
“Cram the Cruiser is an initiative by the police to assist the local food banks in collecting food,” said Fairfax. “Especially this time of year we make ourselves available and we make it sort of fun for the participants by seeing if we can cram as much food into a cruiser as possible.”
So far he’s organized three Cram the Cruiser events. The first was Dec. 8 at Graves Freshmart in Bridgetown, the second was Dec.15 at Independent Grocer in Middleton, and the third and final event is Dec. 22 at Foodland in Middleton where from 3 to 6 p.m. shoppers can pick up a few extra food items or toiletries to stuff into the cruiser.
Fairfax said that in addition to the food police are accepting cash donations as well.
“All of the food and cash donations received from the Bridgetown area were given to the food bank in Bridgetown already,” he said. “The proceeds from the two in Middleton will go to the food bank in Nictaux – 12 Baskets.”
So far they’ve crammed in a lot of grocery bags.
“I know that our first Cram the Cruiser we collected over 250 pounds of food,” Fairfax said. “This past week at the Independent we had over 350 pounds of food. We’re looking for a good turnout on the 22nd.”
Fairfax isn’t using your ordinary cruiser. He’s pulled the big SUV into service for the food fundraiser, and local citizens have been filling not only the back seat of the big vehicle, but the cargo area as well.
“We get a little more bang for the buck when we use an SUV as opposed to one of the smaller vehicles,” Fairfax laughed.
But the public has been up top the challenge.
“It’s actually been pretty good,” said Fairfax. “Here we are right out in front of the grocery stores and it’s almost like we guilt people – but it’s not that. They’ll ask us specifically what do we need. ‘Do you need things for infants,’ or whatever, and they’ll go and purchase those things while they’re doing their own grocery shopping. They’ll come out with a bag.”
He said some people will see the flashing red and blues and come over to see what’s going on.
“They’ll come over and they’ll sort of find out what we’re doing and they come out with a cart,” he said. “You think it’s their groceries but they give it all to us. We’ve had a great response. And the monetary response too has been overwhelming as well. At least $200 every time.”
Fairfax said it’s something the RCMP looks forward to.
“It makes us feel pretty good. When people think of the police they’re probably assuming we’re cramming the cruisers with criminals or bad folks,” he said. “When we can do something like this it sort of makes us feel good about our job. And hopefully the community sees that we’re part of the community and willing to help out in this way – getting food to the food bank.”
Police are committed to serve and protect. Fairfax said this is another way of serving.