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Unemployed Help Centre hosts drive-through food hub in Essex, Harrow


by Sylene Argent

Those in need of a little help in getting essential food items during the Coronavirus pandemic had the opportunity to stop by the temporary Unemployed Help Centre’s drive-through food hub on Saturday, which was set up at the Essex Centre Sports Complex in the morning and at the Harrow Arena in the afternoon.

  Here, volunteers of the Unemployed Help Centre and UNIFOR Local 444 delivered boxes of food to those in need.

  Maxine Deleersnyder, Assistance CEO for the Unemployed Help Centre, said this organization is currently hosting four weekly drive-through food hubs in Windsor and Essex County, including in Leamington, Lakeshore, and two in Windsor.

  Initially, she wanted to host a weekly food hub in Essex, but the drive-through model could not be held at either the Essex Area Food Bank or the Essex Salvation Army Food Bank, she said. So, they planned to host the drive-through model at the arenas in Essex Centre and Harrow Centre on Saturday. More events could be planned for Essex and Harrow.

  In the boxes handed out during the event, Deleersnyder said a family is provided with seven days worth of food. Those coming to the food hubs are asked just a few questions and the food boxes are dropped into their trunk, which helps everyone to practice social distancing.

  “We know people are living paycheque to paycheque,” Deleersnyder said, adding even missing one paycheque can put families severely behind.

  Hosting the drive-through food hubs is one way the Unemployed Help Centre and the Windsor Essex Food Bank Association is able to help those in need. She added they could not do what they do without the generosity and support from within the community.

  She explained the drive through food bank in Windsor is open Mondays, Wednesday, and Fridays. There has been an 80 percent increase in the people utilizing the food bank for the month of April from the year prior.

  “It is not about pride. It’s about need. We don’t refuse anyone,” Deleersnyder said.

  It is no surprise UNIFOR Local 444 was out to help at the event, she said, as the local union is always an incredible support to her association.   

  Dave Cassidy, President of UNIFOR Local 444 said he was contacted the week prior to the drive-through food hub to see if he, as an Essex resident, and volunteers with the union could help out.

  “It has been good. Cars have been flying through here,” he said, adding LOCAL 444 often partners with the Unemployed Help Centre. “We are happy to help out.”

  The Town of Essex was very good at allowing the drive-through events to happen at the Essex Centre Sports Complex and the Harrow Arena, he noted.

  Area resident Sue Markham used the opportunity to pass along an $800 donation to the Unemployed Help Centre. She raised the fund through making masks at home with her own material. She originally wanted to forward the masks to Erie Shore Healthcare, but instead, ended up taking to social media to see who wanted some of the masks she made.

  She did not charge a set amount for the masks, but accepted donations for the Unemployed Help Centre. She was elated to see many people forward larger donations, with one individual giving $100. 

  “I know this is going to be an even tougher time on the less economically fortunate,” Markham said, adding she knows people who utilize food banks, so she wanted a way to support them in a time when there is great need.

  She plans to continue making masks for those who would like them.

  Anyone with the means to help the Unemployed Help Centre is asked to log onto uhc.ca and click “donate.”

© 2020 The Essex Free Press ltd.

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