To The Editor,

I have always enjoyed Christmas Eve.  In my early days in ministry in the Scottish Borders, our Christmas Eve service was held at 11:30 p.m. and the little church standing on the knoll at the end of the village was all lit up with the lights shining out into the darkness through the stain glass windows.  Sometimes there was even snow on the ground.  All the shopping and preparations were completed.  Both stores (depanneurs) in the village were closed as well as the butchers and the local inn.  People were relaxed and the spirit of Christmas pervaded the sanctuary.

A lot has changed since then.  Expectations have increased and commercialism is all pervasive.  But somehow even in spite of the incursion of Santa, the spirit of Christmas lingers on and is shown in your generosity.

Another year has passed in the life of the Community Assistance Fund – variously known as “the Food Bank” and Christmas Baskets” depending on the time of year.  It started almost 34 years ago to provide  Christmas baskets for those in need at Christmas time.  The reality was that if there is a need at Christmas there will also be a need throughout the year and so the idea to institute a food bank was born.  This created its own problems:  where would the food supply come from and how would we finance it?  An extended rummage sale lasting about six weeks seemed a good idea.  We found a location.  The rent was reasonable.  Volunteers volunteered.  A great abundance of clothes was donated.  All these years later, it is still going strong.  Revenue from the thrift store helps pay for various benevolences, food for the food bank and also supplies, advertising etc.

In addition to the food in the Christmas baskets we also give gifts, thanks to the patrons of  Nicko’s Restaurant.   Without their willing and unsolicited participation we would not be able to physically do this.  We appreciate the time and effort and cost and imagination that has gone into choosing and providing these gifts.

Then, of course there is the guignolée.  Our thanks to the firemen who cover the bulk of Vankleek Hill, the Lions Club and, this year, the Cadets who covered the rest.  The food came pouring in and a small army of helpers – some not yet in high school – sorted the food.  We know that some homes were prepared with food to donate to the volunteers and were missed.  We apologize.

We live in a loving, caring, giving community which  recognizes the plight of those who are struggling financially and to date donations from various sources have covered all our costs of the food bank, school breakfast program, emergency help, Christmas baskets and never, in all the years I have been associated with it, have we had to make a plea for financial help and for this we are thankful.

On behalf of the Community Assistance Fund, I thank the local church congregations, individuals, businesses, corporations, service clubs such as the Lions, Optimists, Rotary, those who arrange fund raisers such as Home Hardware, Foodland, schools (money and food) and the organizing committee for the Jamboree (Louise Sproule, Richard Charest and Mike St. Denis), Nicko’s and all others who have all contributed generously. We are especially indebted to the Review and Louise Sproule for all the publicity, advice, and acting as a drop-off station for food and donations.  I suppose that I have omitted a whole lot of people but be assured of our appreciation for all your various contributions.

Sincerely, the Reverend Robert Martin,
Treasurer, Community Assistance Fund Enterprise