Toot toot . . Oamaru Churches Food Bank manager Archdeacon Bernard Wilkinson says the annual Toot For Tucker helps to fill the food bank's shelves. PHOTO: RUBY HEYWARD

Do not be alarmed when you hear sirens and horns reverberating around the streets of Oamaru on December 6.

It is not the start of an apocalypse — it is signalling the annual Toot for Tucker food drive procession, organised by the North Otago Lions Club, with the support of the Oamaru, Waiareka Valley and Waianakarua Lions Clubs.

Emergency services, businesses, and community organisations canvass the streets of Oamaru in cars, cruisers, and fire engines, stopping at people’s homes to collect non-perishable food donations.

Various youth groups donate their time, acting act as ‘‘runners’’ and collecting food from people’s front gates or meeting them at their doors.

Weston and Kakanui Fire Brigades will collect in their areas and other collections take place in Duntroon, Kurow, Otematata and Omarama.

All the food collected goes to the Oamaru Churches Food Bank.

Manager Archdeacon Bernard Wilkinson said it was one of the best nights of the year, usually filling the foodbank’s shelves to help meet the annual demand.

‘‘They go around tooting like mad,’’ he said.

‘‘To be here from 7 o’clock on the night of Toot for Tucker is an absolutely amazing sight — the goods pour in.’’

He was ‘‘delighted’’ the event had not met the same fate as Dunedin’s annual Christmas can appeal, which was cancelled in November due to Covid-19 restrictions.

North Otago Lions Club Toot for Tucker convener Genevieve Heselwood had her fingers crossed Covid-19 would not disrupt the drive, which had run in Waitaki for 20 years.

As more community groups and businesses donated their time to the annual event, and community members donated more food items, the event got ‘‘bigger and better each year’’, Mrs Heselwood said.

‘‘It just goes from strength to strength. It’s much appreciated by the food bank and very needed in this day and age.’’

Because of the ‘‘incredible generosity of North Otago people’’, the food bank was able to cope with the demands made upon it, Archdeacon Wilkinson said.

As well as non-perishables, the foodbank was seeking items for school lunches.
The Toot for Tucker drive will start at 6pm on December 6. Those collecting will have official badges.