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Lady Jays promote upcoming food drive

Annual event to take place at Rogers Centre this weekend
TOR View Full Game Coverage ONTO -- The Lady Jays, a group composed of the Blue Jays' wives and girlfriends, volunteered at the North York Harvest Food Bank on Monday to support and promote the club's 28th annual food drive, which will be held at Rogers Centre from Friday through Sunday during the Interleague series against the Phillies.

The Blue Jays and the Lady Jays got involved with North York Harvest, one of many food banks across Toronto that serve the underprivileged on a daily basis, through Food Banks Canada. North York Harvest's most recent food drive, held in the early spring, produced 100,000 pounds of food and $100,000.

There were 1,800 visits to North York in April alone, and the food it distributes helps feed a diverse group of people, including entire families.

"We have a ton of new people that come, including newcomers to Canada, because the cost of living is so expensive in Toronto," said communications manager Melissa Benner.

North York Harvest caters to individuals who have less than $5 a day to spend on meals and other expenses; roughly 60 percent are on social assistance. It is the central distribution agency for roughly 40 locations across Toronto, and it brings in and distributes 1.6 million pounds of food each year.

The Lady Jays were glad to be able to offer some help.

"We are really proud of the fact that every year the wives have stepped up to be involved in this event to see where the food and the dollars go and get that firsthand look at everything," said Holly Gentemann, manager of community marketing and player relations for the Blue Jays.

The Lady Jays toured the food bank, were given a breakdown of the responsibilities of the staffers and helped pack items for distribution.

To kick off this year's drive, the Jays Care Foundation will make a $5,000 donation to Food Banks Canada.

Donations can be made at all gates during the weekend series. In addition, a mystery package can be purchased for $25 that can include, among items, an autographed cap from one of the players.

Last year's two-day drive raised just under $25,000.

Chris Toman is an associate reporter for

Toronto Blue Jays