BIA kicks off holiday support with donations to local food banks, Rotary Interact

Pictured are ECBIA Directors Justin Gagnon and Mary-Anne Bjorkman, Gerry Belanger of the Essex Area Food Bank, Major Jim Hann of the Essex Salvation Army, Aaron McKinley of the Holy Name chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul, Victoria Jubenville and Paige Colenutt of the EDHS Rotary Interact Club, and ECBIA’s Vice Chairperson Katie McGuire-Blais, Chairperson Terri Grondin-Sweet, and Treasurer Richard Banwell.

by Sylene Argent

With the spirit of giving now in the air, the Essex Centre BIA’s Board of Management invited representatives of the Essex Area Food Bank, the Essex Salvation Army, the Holy Name chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul, and the Essex District High School’s Rotary Interact Club to its November meeting last Tuesday evening so they could receive monetary donations.

  Every year, the Essex Centre BIA (ECBIA) provides donations to the Essex Area Food Bank and the Essex Salvation Army to support their Christmas programs. This year, the Essex Centre BIA also provided a financial contribution to the Holy Name chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul.

  The donations are a way the ECBIA can give back to the community for the support shown to the local business community throughout the year. The donations also show support to organizations that support those in need.

  Gerry Belanger, a member of the Board of Directors for the Essex Area Food Bank, was grateful to receive the donation. He said the funds the ECBIA provided will help the local food distribution organization provide a turkey or ham dinner to its clients. So far, around 95 families have registered for this program.

  The funds will also help the Essex Area Food Bank to pay rent at its future location, which will be a portion of the basement at the Essex United Church. The Essex Area Food Bank will make the move from its current location at the Sun Parlour Junior Public School to its new location by the end of the year.

  Aaron McKinley, the new President of the Holy Name chapter of the St Vincent de Paul ,was pleased to accept the donation from the ECBIA. He said the donation will help his organization to provide Christmas Baskets to around 40 individuals, who have already signed up for the program.

  If any money from the donation is left over, the funds will be put towards buying vouchers for the St. Vincent de Paul Society Shoppe, so families in need can get houseware and clothes.

  Major Jim Hann is looking forward to his first Christmas in Essex as he just moved into the area to take on the pastoral role for the Essex Salvation Army in June, after Major Sam Roberts retired.

  He was happy to accept the donation from the Essex Centre BIA, which will go towards supporting its Food Bank and its Christmas Toy and Hamper project, which can support as many as 100 individuals. The funds could also support the Essex Salvation Army’s programs, such as the SA Connects, which provides a weekly social time and meal for interested individuals for the majority of the year.

  On Friday, November 22, starting at 6 p.m., the Essex Centre BIA and the Salvation Army will present the annual Essex Tree Lighting ceremony, which will be held on the front lawn of the Essex Municipal Building. The Salvation Army will provide hot chocolate, live bands will play Christmas music, and there will be carolling by the tree. This will also be the Christmas Kettle kick-off for the Salvation Army.

  Through its 2019 Letter Appeal and Christmas Kettle Campaign, the Essex Salvation Army is looking to raise $90,000 this year. This will help the Salvation Army provide food, clothing, furniture, weekly community meal programs, summer day camps, and Christmas assistance to those in need.

  Victoria Jubenville and Paige Colenutt of the EDHS Rotary Interact Club were also excited to receive a donation. The ECBIA provided this service club with a donation as its youth pitched-in to help-out at the Fall in Love with Our Local Park Party, which the ECBIA hosted in September inside the Heritage Gardens Park.

  The duo noted their club raises funds for local and global causes, which includes continuing to support the EDHS sister-school in Maforeka. This is a school the community helped to build in 2010.