Panna Chakraborty is filling more than automobile gas tanks. He wants to offer turkey dinners to fill up those who are hungry this Christmas season.
Chakraborty owns the Crevier gas station and convenience store at the corner of Main Street East and Tupper Street in Hawkesbury. On June 29, his wife Sudipta died after a struggle with cancer. He is understandably sad from losing her but is trying hard to turn the loss into something positive.
Chakraborty is taking reservations from anyone in the community who requires a free, complete Christmas dinner for themselves or fir their family. The meals will be prepared by Tim and Chantel McRae of A Catered Affair in Vankleek Hill. The menu includes roast turkey and gravy, creamy mashed potatoes, stuffing, seasonal vegetables, meatballs and gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls and butter, and Christmas berry trifle.
This is not the first time Chakraborty and his family have given to the community. Before owning and operating their business in Hawkesbury, they owned a restaurant in Montréal for 30 years and would feed up to 2,000 people Christmas dinner for free every November 22. The leftovers were often donated to local food banks or distributed to homeless people.
“Those people, at least they deserve a meal,” he said.
In March, the family was offering free delivery of homemade food from their store to people over the age of 70 who had to stay at home due to increased risk of contracting COVID-19.
Chakraborty was planning to retire from his business, which is managed by his son Victor, and he and Sudipta were planning to dedicate most of their time to helping others. Her passing has not changed Pana’s plans. He is now more determined than ever to continue to help others in her memory.
“Somebody has to start something,” said Chakraborty.
Plans to keep helping others in Sudipta’s memory are taking shape. Next year, Chakraborty is planning to establish a foundation in her memory to raise money and assist cancer patients with getting treatment that is not available or easily accessible in Canada, or is outside the form of medicine generally practiced in Canada.
“The government has to listen,” Chakraborty said.
He is planning to have his office in part of the building currently occupied by Richard Auto Glass, which is next to the Crevier station on Main Street East. Chakraborty said that he wants 95 per cent of the foundation’s money to be devoted to assisting cancer patients.
Victor Chakraborty will also be using space in the Richard Auto Glass building to sell vaping merchandise. Due to changes regulating the sale of such products that take effect on January 1, they will no longer be sold in the convenience store at the gas station.
Anyone in need of a free Christmas meal for them or their household can order one from Panna Chakraborty. Orders will be accepted until December 19 for pickup on December 22. All meals will come in individual microwaveable containers with reheating instructions. To order, call Panna Chakraborty at 514-994-5870 or Brenda Dazé at 514-970-5691.