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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Legion, Knights of Columbus, and St. Paul’s offered Friday evening dinner options

by Sylene Argent

Though the COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult for service clubs and organizations to fundraise, the Essex Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion (Branch 201), parishioners at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, and the Holy Name Catholic Church Knights of Columbus (Council # 3305) all found unique ways to offer separate dinner services last Friday night, following social distancing protocols.

  Rick Watson, a member in charge of sports and the kitchen at the Essex Legion, said the local service organization held its second dinner for the community last Friday, offering a broasted chicken dinner option.

  The chicken dinner followed the Legion’s successful, first fish fry for the community during Legion Week, since the start of the pandemic. He was hoping the chicken dinner would go over well, with attracting just the right number of hungry visitors for a dine-in or take out dinner option that would suit safety protocols.

  With proceeds raised through its fundraisers, such as chicken dinner nights, the Essex Legion supports local sporting and youth activities, and also veteran needs.

  Friday’s dinner was hosted as a trial to see if similar events would be hosted again in the future.

  Looking ahead, the Essex Legion plans to host a silent vigil, leading up to Remembrance Day. Volunteers are needed, and do not need to be members to participate. Those who would like more information, or would like to sign up for a one-hour shift, can contact Essex Legion President, Erroll Caza, at 519-324-7438 or by email at Hours will be appointed on a first come, first serve basis.

  Over at the Masonic Hall, Grand Knight Peter Youngson and fellow volunteers offered a drive-through pickerel fish dinner option. Here, Knights of Columbus volunteers cooked outdoors and patrons picked up their dinner, while still seated in their vehicles.

  Typically, the Knights of Columbus hosts fish fries biweekly, for the majority of the year, as fundraisers to support local charities from the hall at Holy Name of Jesus Catholic Church. This service was temporarily halted, due to COVID-19. The local service club also had to find a new venue to host its first fish fry, as the London Diocese is currently not allowing fundraisers to be held at the churches it governs.

  The proceeds raised on Friday evening will support the local chapter of the St. Vincent de Paul. The funds will help this local charity support those in need during the pandemic.

  The local Knights of Columbus group, Youngson said, has had it struggles through the pandemic, like every other service club, but he was pleased to have a huge turnout at its most recent meeting, which was held virtually.

  Pasta was on the menu at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Friday evening. Donna Flood, Warden of the Church, said this was the first pasta dinner held since the start of the pandemic. Typically, St. Paul’s hosts a pasta night once per month. In addition to being a fundraiser for the church, the typical pasta dinners double as social events, equipped with live music from volunteer performers.

  Friday evening’s event, however, offered a takeout option only. It was hoped that if things ran smoothly, the event could continue on in some form in the future. Friday evening’s proceeds would support the church’s programs, such as the Clothing Cupboard. It is hoped this service could be reopened this month, with safety measures in place.  

  Because it was difficult to know how may patrons to expect, preparing for the event was challenging for the volunteers. She was hoping, however, for a decent turnout.Reverend Chris Brouillard-Coyle of St. Paul’s Anglican Church added the local parish’s annual Legacy of Heroes program, which recognizes outstanding individuals, will likely go on a little differently this year.

  Church representatives are thinking of having individuals, from the same social bubble, host gratitude hunts, instead of the traditional recognition program. These groups would pick up supplies, such as sidewalk chalk and markers, from the local church, then create signs of thanks to outstanding individuals, such as essential workers. The idea is to show appreciation for their efforts.

  Volunteers with the program would take photos of their efforts, then send them along, with an outline of the event, to the church for cataloguing.

  She plans to set up a profile through Canada Donates. A link will be found on the church’s website and social media page in the near future. Those who would like to participate do not need to be members of the church.

  “We didn’t want to drop it,” she said of the Legacy of Heroes program, noting it is an important recognition program.

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