“Adopt a Family” program at Villanova yields big results for area families



By Ron Giofu


The Christmas season was alive and well at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School last week.

Prior to a Thursday morning mass in the school’s gymnasium, students brought in a large number of gifts and food items that will be going to families in need in the Windsor-Essex County area.

Teacher Maggie Ducharme explained that students bought clothing and gifts that met the needs of families that require them this holiday season.

“They also provided a monetary donation to help with Christmas dinner for the families,” she stated.

A canned food drive in November raised over 5,000 cans and non-perishable food items.

Students at St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School proceed into the gym last Thursday with their gifts for the Adopt a Family program.

In all, St. Thomas of Villanova Secondary School is assisting 38 families this holiday season. Ducharme said they are in their 15th year of the “Adopt a Family” program and the Catholic high school has assisted over 700 families in that time.

Charities of choice this year are the Divine Mercy Food Bank, the Essex and Area Food Bank and the Children’s Aid Society (CAS).

“All members of the school community have been part of the project,” said Ducharme.

Students Ethan MacKinnon and Isabella Kaschalk were happy with the efforts of their school.

“I think that compared to past years, it’s a large quantity of stuff we have collected,” said Kaschalk. “Many of these families come from nothing. We’re allowing them to have a great Christmas their parents can’t afford.”

“The whole school got involved,” said MacKinnon. “We can’t ask for more than that. It’s a really good cause.”

Kaschalk said they feel proud as a school community because they helped those in need at Christmas.

“It helps (the families) feel better during Christmas time,” she said.


Local store helps out with toys for Amherstburg Fire Department’s toy drive



By Ron Giofu


A local clothing store’s fashion show has turned into a Christmas donation that will benefit local children.

Déjà Vu New 2’s fashion show at Royal Canadian Legion Br. 157 in November generated the $500 that was used to purchase toys for local children. Store owner Kim Malega planned the fashion show with staff members Karen Sauro and Marita Wistuba but noted it was the generosity of her customers, including those who attended the fashion show, that made the donation possible.

“They did a great job. I’m proud of them,” said Malega. “We’ll do it again next year.”

Malega was pleased that the toys will stay local, adding they had a good time raising the money and enjoyed giving back to the town.

“The ladies that come in here are awesome,” she added. “They really get behind the store.”

Firefighters Adam Mann (left) and Mark Stock (right) accept Christmas gifts from Deja Vu New 2, represented by Marita Wistuba and Kim Malega.

The toys were picked up by members of the Amherstburg Fire Department. The Amherstburg Firefighters Association, who represents the members at the local fire department, are hosting their “Stuff a Fire Truck” toy drive again this year.

“It’s distributed through the Goodfellows and there are other families in need that contact us but are not through the Goodfellows,” explained Firefighter Mark Stock.

Stock and Firefighter Adam Mann were on hand Friday to pick up the toys from Déjà Vu New 2.

“We’re still looking for donations. We need donations for young teens. That’s where we are short,” said Stock.

Suggestions for young teens include retail gift cards, movie passes, electronics and manicure and spa certificates. The “Stuff a Fire Truck” toy drive includes youth up to 15-years-old, said Stock.

New, unwrapped toys will be accepted at any of the three Amherstburg fire halls or at Canadian Tire, Movati Fitness or the Amherstburg Health Care Centre. Please do not donate stuffed animals. Cash donations are accepted, however.

Federal Conservative candidate holds meet and greet with local supporters



By Ron Giofu


The federal Conservative candidate is a familiar face for those who followed the provincial election earlier this year but he took the opportunity to meet some of his supporters again recently.

Chris Lewis, who finished 2,711 votes behind NDP incumbent Taras Natyshak in June’s provincial election, has now secured the federal nomination in the Essex riding and will challenge another NDP incumbent – Tracey Ramsey – in next year’s national election. Lewis held a meet and greet at Sanson Estate Winery in McGregor where he met with supporters and sought donations for the upcoming election campaign.

“It’s going fantastic, full of energy,” Lewis said of his campaign thus far. “There are so many people saying now is the time for change.”

Essex Conservative candidate Chris Lewis met with local supporters recently at Sanson Estate Winery in McGregor.

Lewis said it is now “all about jobs,” particularly since General Motors will be pulling 2,500 jobs out of Oshawa. He stated diversification has to be looked at and Canada has to “open the market for new business.”

“Getting rid of the carbon tax is important to us,” he said.

Working together and building bridges is key to moving forward in the future, Lewis added.

Believing that the Conservatives are “worth another look,” Lewis said that local members of the party call former Essex MP Jeff Watson the “$2 billion dollar man” for investments he brought to this area.

“Unless you have a voice in government, you won’t really have a say,” he said, optimistic about Andrew Scheer’s chances of forming a government after the 2019 federal election.

The name recognition Lewis gained during the provincial campaign is something he believes gives him a head start in his federal campaign. He plans on knocking on as many doors as possible to promote Scheer’s vision, which is to put Canada “back on the map” globally.

Lewis added that while he wants to engage seniors and today’s adults, he also wants to engage youth.

“I’m doing this for our future,” he said.

Telling supporters he is “so proud of our team,” Lewis added “I wouldn’t want to be the NDP, I wouldn’t want to be Tracey,” though added he doesn’t plan to run a smear campaign.

“It’s not the way God made us,” he explained.

Calling Scheer “a very fantastic man” and a “dynamite leader,” Lewis said he was proud to carry the banner for him in Essex.

“We can win this,” he told his supporters. “We can make Essex blue again. We can make the Watson family proud again.”


More thefts from vehicles reported last week


The Amherstburg Police Service is reporting more thefts from vehicles last week.

Vehicles parked in the 200 block of Kempt St. were reportedly entered Dec. 3 with police saying small items and change were stolen. According to police, the vehicles were unlocked. It was reported around 6:45 p.m. that day.

Another vehicle was entered in the 400 block of Sandwich St. S. Dec. 6 and a GPS and other items were taken. There are no suspects. It was reported that morning around 10:40 a.m.

Other thefts Amherstburg police were called to the 4800 block of Concession 4 North Dec. 5 around 1:50 p.m. for a theft of copper wire from a tower site. There are no suspects at the present time and police say the theft occurred sometime over a 30-day period.

*Christmas decorations were stolen from the front lawn of a home in the 400 block of Alma St. Police say there are no suspects at the present time. It was reported Dec. 5 around 4:40 p.m.

Mischief A pair of vehicles were scratched on two separate days in the parking lot at Western Secondary School. The first report came Dec. 7 around 10:05 a.m. while the second report came Dec. 10 at 3:20 p.m. There are no suspects but the matter is under investigation.

*A vehicle parked in a public parking lot had its tires slashed Dec. 8. Amherstburg police say it occurred in a lot in the 200 block of Dalhousie St. There are no suspects and it was reported that night around 10:55 p.m.


Accident A 42-year-old Brampton man was charged after two-vehicle accident on Sandwich St. S. The accident occurred in the 200 block around 2:25 p.m. Dec. 6 and the man was charged with reversing not in safety. Amherstburg police add there were no injuries and minor damage.


Stats There were seven 911 hang-up calls, 10 alarm calls and ten traffic-related charges over the past week.

-All information courtesy of the Amherstburg Police Service

New chairs elected at both public and Catholic school boards



By Ron Giofu


There will be new leaders at both the Greater Essex County District School Board and the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board.

Jessica Sartori and Fulvio Valentinis were named chairs of their respective boards – public and Catholic – last Tuesday night. Both trustees are from Windsor.

At the public board meeting, Sartori was chosen by her colleagues over former vice chair Ron LeClair, the Amherstburg/LaSalle trustee.

LeClair believed he was the person for the job based on his three years of experience as the public board’s vice chair and believed he was ready for the challenge of being chair. However, it was Sartori whom his fellow trustees elected.

Sartori, who will lead the public board for 12 months, said the Greater Essex County District School Board has an “important role” and believed the education of children plays an important role in the economy of the community. She said the board has innovative programming to respond to the needs of its communities.

LeClair also sought the vice chair position again, stating he would support Sartori in her role as chair. He noted his job with the Windsor Police Service is flexible to where he could attend the board office for meetings or other necessary duties. However, after two tied votes, Kingsville/Essex trustee Julia Burgess had her name drawn from a hat and was named to the vice chair position.

LeClair would be named to the Greater Essex County District School Board’s audit committee later in the meeting.

The Greater Essex County District School Board elected its chair and vice chair at its Dec. 4 meeting.

Valentinis will take over as chair of the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board, while Lisa Soulliere will continue on in her position as vice-chair. Valentinis, first elected as a Catholic trustee in 2014, was acclaimed as chair as was Soulliere, the latter having been a trustee since 2000.

“This is an excellent time to be assuming a leadership position with this board,” said Valentinis, who prior to coming to the WECDSB spent 20 years as a councillor with the City of Windsor. “Our student

achievement results are consistently above provincial averages, we’re in a sound financial position, and we continue to offer some of the most innovative programming of any school board in this province.”

Valentinis takes over the position from Barbara Holland, who left the Catholic board after 18 years of service. Valentinis praised Holland for the work she has done as chair since 2012.

“Barb is a great leader,” Valentinis said. “She demonstrated an excellent ability to build consensus through working with administration and her fellow trustees in order to meet the strategic objectives of our organization, and to make sure the needs of our students and their families were always being met.”

Elections for the position of chair and vice-chair are held on an annual basis at the Catholic board as well.

Valentinis said his priorities for the next term include continuing to prudently manage the board’s resources, upgrading its facilities, expanding its innovative programming, and promoting faith-based education. Soulliere, who represents the Lakeshore area said her priorities for the next term include ensuring that the board’s resources are managed so that student achievement remains the number one concern.

Frank DiTomasso is the Windsor-Essex Catholic District School Board trustee for Amherstburg/LaSalle.