Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission

Garage Gym makes donation to mission after “Check in for Charity” event



By Jolene Perron


For everyone who attended a class at the Garage Gym during the month of October and who checked in on Facebook, money was donated to the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission.

“We were able to raise $142.25 with the check ins,” explained Tony Smith, co-owner of The Garage Gym with his wife Dani. “We were so proud of the effort put in by our membership that we decided to double the donation to $0.50 per check-in. We also had an anonymous $20 donation raising our total to $304.50”

A total of 569 people checked in during the course of the event. Smith said the event was started to raise money for local charities so that they funds stay in that town. They chose the Mission because of “all the great services they offer.”

Winston McAllister, whose father Tim is the president of the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission, was on hand last week to receive the check. He is also a member of The Garage Gym.

Winston McAllister accepts a cheque on behalf of the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission from Garage Gym co-owner Dani Smith. The local gym raised over $300 during a recent charity initiative.

“The mission appreciates any help from the community because everything they do is 100 per cent charity,” explained McAllister. “Nobody is paid, everyone is volunteer and all the money goes back to helping the community. Any time someone makes a gesture to help out, and help their community, the mission welcomes it with open arms. When they approached me to ask, I thought it was awesome.”

Smith explained the independently owned strength and conditioning facility provides small group training, focusing on improving member’s health both physically and mentally. They aim to push their clients beyond what they believe to be their limits, which “teaches them to better deal with the stress and obstacles life will throw at them.” Smith is an 18-year veteran of the Windsor Police Service, having spent 10 years on the SWAT team. His wife Dani worked 14 years as a police officer in Windsor as well.

“It was really nice and uplifting knowing that every time you were here, money was going towards a good cause helping the community,” said McAllister. “There is just a bunch of great people here working towards a great cause. It almost mirrors the slogan for the mission, people helping people. It’s as simple as that, and everyone here just chipped into that mission’s statement.”

Halloween fundraiser proves beneficial for Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission



By Ron Giofu


The Grant and Shank families’ efforts in decorating their front lawns for Halloween paid off for the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission.

The McLellan Ave. families decorated their front yards with large Halloween displays again this year but this year they added the ability for people to donate for the mission. Donations were made in the days leading up to Halloween in addition to Halloween night itself and when it was all said and done, approximately 350 food items were collected.

“It went well,” said Heather Shank. “I had no idea what to expect.”

Ken Grant said they were surprised with how much they collected, as this was the first year they tried to collect donations in addition to putting up their Halloween displays.

“We received a lot of comments from people saying it was a great idea,” said Grant.

Shank said she was impressed that donations came in on Halloween itself.

“Some people brought food items on Halloween,” she said. “Who thinks to bring a canned good when they go out trick-or-treating?”

The Shank and Grant families raised 350 food items in conjunction with their Halloween displays. They donated the goods to the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission. From left: Mission president Tim McAllister, Heather Shank and Ken Grant.

Tim McAllister, president of the mission’s board of directors, thanked the Grants and the Shanks. He said their donation will help the mission in building up their supply of food items for the coming year.

“It’s starting to generate a feeling for the holidays,” said McAllister.

McAllister called the donation a “jump start” as the Christmas season now approaches and helps them get to the Christmas season.

Grant added they are thankful to all the people who donated, as it was “nice to see people drop stuff off.” He added that they plan on doing it again next year and hope to increase the number of items donated to the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission.

McLellan Ave. neighbours scaring up donations for mission



By Ron Giofu


A pair of McLellan Ave. neighbours are getting ready for Halloween and plan on scaring up donations for the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission.

Ken Grant has decorated the front yard of his home at 440 McLellan with a haunted schoolhouse theme complete with pillars, smoke machines, skeletons, a classroom and more. Heather and Derek Shank, who live across the street at 437 McLellan, have a front yard that now resembles a cemetery in time for Oct. 31.

The Grant and Shank families have decorated the front lawns of their McLellan Ave. homes and will also be teaming with the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission to collect canned goods and non-perishable items during Halloween. From left: Ken Grant, Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission president Tim McAllister and Heather Shank.

With so many children trick-or-treating in the area every Halloween – Grant estimates at least 350 came along the street last year – the neighbours decided to also collect canned goods and other non-perishable items for the mission.

Grant said he started working on his display in April and did “a little bit at a time,” adding he still plans on doing more before Halloween. Most items are handmade with exception of a few store-bought items and other materials he fished out of other people’s trash.

“I get more excitement making these things than buying all the props,” he said.

Noting he is already planning ahead, Grant pointed out he plans on creating a torture chamber in 2018 and a wedding chapel in 2019.

“It’s fun. I do it because I enjoy it,” he said, noting he gets compliments from neighbours. “It makes me feel good.”

The front yard of Heather and Derek Shank is decked out for Halloween.

Heather Shank agreed that it is an enjoyable hobby, adding that they start their display in September. She joked that new neighbours must wonder what is going on but those who have been in the Kingsbridge South neighbourhood for a while “expect our craziness.”

Shank pointed out they usually have their displays on every night but Grant noted the displays likely won’t be fully complete until seven to ten days before Halloween. They even have school buses slowing down so drivers can show students their houses.

The Grant house features a haunted schoolhouse scene, including a classroom.

“Apparently, we are doing bus tours,” Shank quipped.

Neither have a firm number on how much they spend, but Grant estimates it’s likely close to $1,000 with Shank saying their display has also seen its cost accumulate.

“You don’t add it up because you don’t want to know,” Shank said with a laugh, adding they have a shed in their backyard just for Halloween decorations.

People can swing by early and donate to the mission if they wish, as Grant noted a crate will be part of his Halloween display and that is where donations can be deposited.

The Halloween displays on McLellan Ave. also includes directional signage.

“I’m thankful they chose the mission,” said president Tim McAllister. “We really need some cans at this time. We are really appreciative.”

McAllister pointed out the supply of cans and non-perishable items is low right now and “this will give us a boost.” He added that the mission is appreciative every time someone thinks of them.


Local family receives donations in lieu of gifts for son’s first birthday



By Jolene Perron


“We always thought that kids who are only a year old are so content with an array of silly things around the house and there really isn’t a need for a bunch of toys and gadgets at his age.”

Life-long Amherstburg residents Jessica Gignac and her husband Branden celebrated their son’s first birthday in the beginning of September. She is a teacher at École St-Jean Baptiste, while her husband works on Fighting Island in LaSalle as a hunting and fishing guide.
She explained they have always enjoyed having family gatherings and bringing people together to “have fun and enjoy life.”

“For Reed’s birthday we had a big gathering at our home with friends and family,” said Gignac. “We have a lot of friends with children so thought it would be fun to host an outdoor party with lawn games, a bouncy house, trampoline, bubbles, snacks for the kiddies and a yummy taco bar. In lieu of the presents we asked for our friends and family to bring a $5 donation instead and that we would pay it forward to those in need in our very own community.”

Jessica Gignac (left) sits with her husband Branden and son Reed on the front porch of their Amherstburg home, with a mason jar filled with $230, which they raised during their son’s first birthday celebration and will be donating to the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission.

The couple raised a total of $230, which they are donating to the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission. President Tim McAllister said the money will be going towards purchasing baby supplies.
“The Mission started the baby food program over 15 years ago because someone was feeding their baby two per cent milk,” explained McAllister. “My director who oversees the program asked the person who brought it to our attention to find out what the baby likes, what it was allergic to/ They received things every month for 24 months. I believe the first 24 months in a baby’s life is important for it’s development. I would like to thank Jessica Gignac for her family’s donation.”

Gignac said she and her family are fortunate enough to have enough in life to get them by, so they decided to help out those who need a lending hand within their community, and encourages others to consider it as an option.
“We hope that an article like this may inspire more people to think twice about birthday parties and different gatherings and that changing their motive behind the party could in turn help people who may be less fortunate,” said Gignac.

Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission celebrates 22 years of operation


By Jolene Perron


“As there is an apparent need in our community for the Mission’s work, we will continue to work diligently to build and pursue new partnerships and maintain our current ones. We continue to modify programs to meet the needs of the community with the resources available. Our motto is people helping people.”

Tim McAllister, president of the Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission addressed the board and attendees of the annual general meeting Sept. 20, explaining they have had a good year thanks to the people in the community who help with donations, both monetary and tangible items.

“We encourage people through our Wednesday breakfast, hot meals, baby food programs, our emergency food bank and computer programs,” said McAllister. “We can only do this through your generous monetary donations, your untiring dedication and efforts to others.”

Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission president Tim McAllister presents Kim Cabanaw with an award of appreciation during their Annual General Meeting September 20.

The meeting also included a pizza dinner, which was donated by Dominos, Bulls Eye, Naples, Rosa’s, Armando’s, Golden Crust, Capri and Little Caesars.

Shirley Hitchcock, a board member with the mission, said in 2016 they served 14,546 hot meals at lunch, which runs from Monday until Saturday and every special holiday. This year, from January until the end of August, they have served 9,618 meals and their busiest time is yet to come.

This year’s board of directors include Paul Kascjak, Lana Talbot, Tammy Pasceri, Shirley Hitchcock, Anne Rene, Sheilagh Jaroszewciz , Anne Fox and Tim McAllister. Absent from the meeting and photo, Jim Ferrar, John Drop and Shannon Dobson.

In 2016, Hitchcock said they prepared 619 food baskets for people to take home to feed themselves and their families. So far this year, they have already prepared 372 food baskets.

“The people in here, when you come in and you see them sitting down for five minutes at the table, believe me they are just resting up until they have to do the next thing,” said Hitchcock.

As for the financial side of the organization, in order to save costs they don’t do an official audit but rather a non-audited statement, according to financial advisor Michael Greenaway. He said after having a look at the records, he believes they are a “fair representation of what has happened,” and he has prepared financial statements which have been approved by the board.

Amherstburg Food and Fellowship Mission president Tim McAllister presents his wife Violet McAllister with an award of appreciation during their Annual General Meeting September 20.

“It cost about $90,000 to run the place last year and the organization was able to raise through donations and fundraising $93,000,” explained Greenaway. “They are really on a tight ship and don’t spend more than they have. The organization is running, I think, very responsibly.”

The board also presented awards for appreciation to Renee Jackson, Kim Cabanaw
and Violet McAllister.

The mission is currently looking into the future, and will be launching a new website shortly. They are also looking for gently used clothing for fall and winter as they head into the cooler season.