10/12/2013 03:06 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Olympic athletes pitch in at food bank

Olympic athletes are pitching in with a food drive this holiday weekend at the Daily Bread Food Bank.

Rower Jane Thornton — who competed at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and now studies medicine in Toronto — is among the dozens of volunteers who turned out on Saturday to sort through hundreds of thousands of pounds of food.

Thornton said she’s happy to help the community that supported her.

“You can’t over-state how important it is for people to have proper nutrition, to have good quality of life and the health to pursue their goals,” Thornton told CBC News.

“If you have an opportunity to give back, why don’t you?” she added. “This is a perfect chance for us to come together as members of the Olympic team and do something good.”

Other past and present Olympians turned out in Toronto and at other food banks in around the country, including 2002 skiing silver medallist Deidra Dionne and Nordic combined skier Jason Myslicki, 

Daily Bread said by Saturday morning it had collected more than $227,000 and 153,000 pounds of food, towards a goal of $300,000 and 200,000 pounds. Deliveries have already gone out to feed families in time for Thanksgiving.

But donations and drives are “never just about the holiday,” said Daily Bread executive director Gale Nyberg. “The holiday is the reason people give [but]… this food will be used for the remainder of October and all of November, and into December.”

The food drive wraps up next week, by which time Daily Bread hopes to have collected over 300,000 pounds of food.