Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission amongst groups getting large union donations

 

Missoin donation1By Ron Giofu

 

The Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission has received significant support from the labour movement this holiday season.

The mission was one of four groups receiving a $5,000 cheque recently from Unifor Local 444. The donations, made at the union’s Turner Road headquarters in Windsor, also saw the Lakeshore Food Bank, the Essex & Area Food Bank and the Unemployed Help Centre also receive $5,000 each.

Unifor Local 200 also got into the charitable act, as they also donated $5,000 to the Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission as the mission was one of six organizations splitting a $30,000 donation from Local 200.

“I think it’s important we recognize a lot of work being done in our communities,” said Unifor Local 444 president Dino Chiodo.

Chiodo noted that people have lost jobs through “no fault of their own” via plant closures and similar actions, citing recent announced closures of the Heinz plant in Leamington and the Kellogg’s plant in London. He also projected a job loss of 8-10,000 people from Canada Post from a planned shift away from house-to-house mail delivery.

The membership of Local 444 is “fortunate to have good jobs and all of them support their local union,” said Chiodo. He added those making minimum wage – $10.25 per hour in Ontario – also have trouble making ends meet as do those who are unemployed.

“We thank you for providing the services you do because without you, we’d be worse off,” Chiodo told the food bank leaders. “Without you, we’d be in a lot more trouble.”

The $5,000 donations to each of the organizations, he added, was “so you can keep doing what you do.”

Amherstburg Food & Fellowship Mission president Tim McAllister called it a “great day” for his organization and said times have gotten tougher for both people using food banks and those running them.

“It used to be easy to go to the food bank to help people,” said McAllister. “As time goes by, it’s so difficult. When you go home, you take all the sadness from the people and their stories. Now it has become a challenge to meet the need.”

McAllister said the mission served 14,000 hot meals and distributed 710 emergency food baskets in 2012 and expects that number to rise once 2013 numbers are finalized.

“The need is getting greater and greater,” he said.

Donations to the mission have been down so far this year but “things still have time to pick up.” He said the mission is once again hosting its Christmas turkey dinner at noon and said volunteers are usually strong for that event.

June Muir from the Unemployed Help Centre noted that organization didn’t receive any turkey donations this year so their proceeds will go towards that. Murray Chevalier, a director with the Essex & Area Food Bank, said the donation from Local 444 was “sorely needed” in that community also.

“This money is needed not only for people who don’t have jobs but the working poor also,” said Chevalier. “You just can’t survive with a family at $10.25 an hour.”

Susan Dozois, chair of the Lakeshore Food Bank, added her food bank covers a large area and services a lot of people.

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