Letter to the Editor

Vankleek Hill Food Bank thanks volunteers, community for support

By Louise Sproule

July 19, 2018

To The Editor, For a small community Vankleek Hill rises to the occasion time after time and as far as the Community Assistance Fund is concerned, year after year with its support of the Vankleek Hill Food Bank. We truly appreciate the time, effort and expertise which is donated especially by the organizing committee. Louise Sproule donates her time and vast knowledge of local resources that can be called upon as well as donating advertising space in the Review, printing photocopying, providing space for committee meetings and much more. Mike St. Denis (and brother Robert) put the Windsor Tavern premises at the disposal of the Jamboree, providing parking, shelter from the sun most years and from the rain one year, hydro power as well as knowledge of local talent and how well they are received. Richard Charest is a most effective fundraiser through his ability to persuade contacts from far and near to become major or minor sponsors, to donate substantial door prizes and a great variety of gifts for the gift table. He is also responsible for keeping tabs on the tickets and the revenue as well as expenses – all of which are extremely time-consuming. Irene and Lloyd Howes not only help as door-keepers on the day of the Jamboree but also follow up on contacts with our sponsors. They are in charge of the Food Bank. The entertainment program comes from the inspiration of the committee with long discussions with entertainment coordinator Gord Nixon about whether or not the entertainers are well known, will add musical variety to appeal to a range of supporters, and most important, whether they will be available. This year we were fortunate that Wayne Rostad joined with Roger Hamelin, Pascale Picard, the Country Boyz, 50 Proof, Stray Dogs, AlleyKatts and later on, Sidetracks. Wayne Rostad traveled all the way from Nova Scotia and made a substantial donation to the funds – as did some of the other entertainers including Bobby Lalonde who provided the sound system. The emcee was Gord Nixon who kept the whole event swinging along in his own inimitable way. The Community Assistance Fund has been in operation since the early 1980s. It started with a Christmas Basket program and developed into a Food Bank which was supported through donations and the excess food from the Christmas Baskets. With the obvious need, the question of fundraising became a priority probably in 1984 or 85 and an extended rummage sale was arranged. We expected it to last for five or six weeks but it has been going ever since as a Thrift Store on Home Avenue. The funds raised and the generous donations at Christmas and fundraisers during the years kept us solvent and we have endeavored to keep the emphasis on the fact that it is a COMMUNITY affair. Knox congregation provides accommodation and also pays hydro for the freezers but it is not a church program. About seven years ago there was something of a financial crisis and the idea of a Jamboree in aid of the Food Bank was born. This year was our seventh Jamboree and we were blessed with a warm, sunny day and a light breeze blowing. On behalf of the Community Assistance Fund I would like to thank all who contributed in any way to make this another successful Jamboree. Apart from the Jamboree, funds are raised through private donations, the churches in Vankleek Hill, Champlain Township, businesses, service clubs (Lions and Rotary) corporations and other voluntary fund raisers. This year we also received a number of “in memoriam” donations. The funds raised are used primarily to support the food bank. In the year 2016 – 2017 we had 26 single people, 7 couples and 19 families (including 27 children) as regular clients. We also support the school breakfast programs at Pleasant Corners Public School, St. Jude’s, Ecole St-Gregoire’s, Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute and Laggan. We buy vegetables, turkey or hams and gifts to augment the food collected at the guignolée. All this, with the rent for the Thrift Store, liability insurance, telephone and various expenses make up the bulk of the expenditure. In addition, we have a contingency fund kept available in a savings account which can be easily accessed and used if there should be a major calamity. Contrary to popular perceptions, none of our volunteers are paid but they are reimbursed for supplies which they purchase for the Christmas Baskets, Food Bank and Thrift Store our volunteers. I would like to express the gratitude of the Board of the Community Assistance Fund and to all who helped in any way at all. We appreciate that times are tough for many people but once again we have had a generous response.

R. Martin, Treasurer of the Community Assistance Fund