Royal LePage Merritt and the Merritt Centennials are coming together for what they’re hoping will be “the biggest food drive Merritt has ever seen.”

The plan is to send out a fleet of pickup trucks strung with Christmas lights and playing festive music on the Dec. 1 collection day. Each truck will have a team of four or five people walking alongside it to collect food from the houses along the street, Royal LePage owner and food drive organizer Claudette Edenoste said. Each group will also have a Centennials player on board.

Edenoste said organizers already have over 100 volunteers (including Centennials players) and 16 trucks for the event, but they’re seeking more help.

Organizers have split the city into nine zones, but say they’re able to accommodate more volunteers to make the workload a little easier on everyone. Edenoste said the team estimated it would take about four or five hours to cover the city, but that timeframe could be shorter if they recruit more volunteers.

“Either you can walk or donate your truck with lights. The more people we have, the better it will be,” she said.

Hands of Hope comes at the end of the Merritt Country Christmas weekend, which sees dozens of locals put lights on their company and even private vehicles for the Santa Claus parade on Friday night.

“After the parade, there’ll be a lot of trucks that’ll have Christmas lights on the vehicles, and we’re asking anybody from the parade if they’d like to join us for that Sunday. They could keep the lights on their trucks and join us for Hands of Hope,” Edenoste said. “People will see these lit trucks coming down the road and wonder what the heck’s going on. It’s going to be very different from your average food drive because we’re going to be in the spirit of Christmas with the lights and the music.”

Hands of Hope is modelled after a similar food drive in Quesnel, which Edenoste called “very successful.” Organizers held a contest to name the food drive, which they’re hoping will become annual, and Edenoste said the name Hands of Hope was chosen because it best summarized the spirit of the event.

“Hands of Hope is all these hands coming together for one great cause,” she said. “It says it all.”

Volunteers will meet at the Civic Centre at 2 p.m. on Dec. 1 and will start canvassing the city around 3 p.m.

Anyone interested in volunteering can contact Claudette or Lynda Etchart at Royal LePage at 378-6181.