04/26/2014 02:40 EDT | Updated 06/26/2014 05:59 EDT

Moisson Montreal raises $150K for toddlers in poverty

Food bank Moisson Montreal raised $150,000 in its annual drive for children under the age of five, but it’s still $50,000 short of its goal.

Even so, organizers called the drive a success. Moisson Montreal's director of communications Carla Marques said that up until a week ago, the campaign had been “very rough,” with just 10 per cent — $20,000 — of its goal raised.

The Great Food Drive For Children campaign had a hard time raising funds last year as well, with most of its donations coming in at the 11th hour.

“The last week has been amazing. People have donated a lot,” Marques said. Diapers, bibs, bottles and food were chief among the donations.

The money raised will be used to buy additional supplies.

Volunteers, politicians and local celebrities were on hand Saturday to help sort through the donations. Child-friendly activities like face painting, an inflatable castle and colouring kept little ones busy while the supplies were organized and bundled into care packages.

The packages will be distributed via community organizations to the families of 20,000 toddlers who live in poverty in Montreal.

“When we talk about need, they’re hungry. We’re not even exaggerating when we say these kids are actually hungry. In Montreal. It’s crazy,” Marques said.

Early on in the day, Mayor Denis Coderre led the crowd gathered at the Moisson Montreal headquarters in the St-Laurent borough in a “Go Habs Go” chant.

Now, he said in French, let’s use that same enthusiasm for the children.

“If we want to fight poverty, it’s in this way that we’ll do it together,” Coderre told the crowd.

“We need to fight poverty 365 days a year… It’s not just during Christmas. We have to feed ourselves every day,” he said later in an interview with CBC Montreal.