Bunnell: Southwold firefighters show their heart with foodbank donation

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As an organization, they’re not the biggest.

But a count of 40 members really doesn’t tell you how big the group’s heart is.

And after a vote – online because of social distancing – Southwold Firefighters’ Assoc. on Thursday donated $1,000 to St. Thomas Elgin Food Bank.

The organization, which raises money through an annual BBQ and other funders, and whose members also donate part of their annual pay, already supported Christmas Care and the foodbank during the holidays.

The volunteer firefighters buy equipment and extras for their department, which operates out of firehalls in Shedden and Talbotville. They back soccer and a student needs fund at Southwold Central public school.

“This is what we do,” Tim Buchanan, the association’s president, says matter-of-factly.

But with COCID-19 upon us, the motion was proposed to do just a bit more for the food bank. And, Tim hopes, it will push others do the same.


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Karen McDade, the food bank’s general manager, says support for the former Caring Cupboard in the time of COVID-19 has been overwhelming.

“The community has been absolutely amazing!”

And monetary donations like the firefighters’ are particularly appreciated. (Oh. Hand sanitizer would be, too, thank you.) The food bank is calling fewer volunteers to ensure their safety. But that means fewer persons to sort food donations. And freezer space is at its limit – even after a St. Thomas woman who sold her home and, thinking of the food bank, called and donated a commercial-size upright freezer.

Karen tears when she also thinks of a 15-year-old boy who emptied his bank account for the community’s less fortunate. His single-parent mom matched her son’s teenage wealth, and they presented $150 in food gift cards.

These and many other examples of community generosity are documented on the food bank’s Facebook page.

* * *

A very familiar – and welcome – face last Thursday on the London Health Sciences Foundation Heroes of Health: COVID-19 Stream-a-thon funder.

Actor Rachel McAdams – London born but StT raised – donated $10,000 in support of front-line health-care workers.

A cause close to her: Rachel’s mother Sandra was a nurse for 38 years at University Hospital.

“My mom worked at University Hospital for 38 years and still has a lot of friends working there today,” Rachel said as the stream-a-thon worked toward a $50,000 goal.


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“So she was really excited and touched personally that so many people checked in with this today.”

During a lighthearted chat on the stream-a-thon with Virgin Radio host J Stevens, whose own mom texted him to not be too much of a fan girl talking to the star, Rachel shared a bit about her two-year-old son with Jamie Linden.

The couple is famously protective that their son has a private life. But Rachel said he’s “welcome distraction” during quarantine.

“It’s true, he’s so entertaining! I thought about that, ‘Would I rather be alone in quarantine? Or with my family?’

“You know, there are days sure, but I mean I would be so bored without him around to make it so fun.”

Looking every bit the mom-at-home, she also talked a bit about their life in isolation:

“We live sort of out in the country, a little farm down the road, so we can go and look at the animals.

“We’ve been doing some planting, some okra … well, I mean, I do the planting and he snacks most of the day.”

Her appearance as a surprise guest on the stream-a-thon has garnered national and international media attention. And her donation, enthused one report, proves, “She’s totally not a mean girl!”

(Which, of course, if you’ve ever met our Rachel, you know.)

Oh. The Mean Girls star said she’d be open to returning to the screen as Regina George.

The interview’s on YouTube.

* * *

Well, suppose they organized a protest … and nobody showed?

Such apparently the case on Tuesday at St. Thomas city hall, where a Facebooked protest of the continuing COVID-19 lockdown attracted no protesters.


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“Thank you, St. Thomas,” Mayor Joe Preston posted. In all capitals.

“The good part about the protest – and I’m very thankful to all you you citizens of St. Thomas, is no one showed up,” he elaborated in his daily video message to city residents in which he continues to stress staying at home.

But a crack about organizers not being able to get out of their mom’s basement has drawn not only a mixed response but has raised a sometimes heated – and vitriolic – debate among commenters. Indeed, there’s a huge 115 comments posted.

Mayor Joe responded in Wednesday’s video:

“Occasionally, the mayor makes a joke during his statement … I put on the top of the page today the definition of a joke. What we need to do in this community, also, through this crisis, is to continue to smile, make fun and have a little bit of a good time with ourselves while we are going through this tragedy.”

That definition of a joke:

“A thing that someone says to cause amusement or laughter especially a story with a funny punchline.”

* * *

Opening his Wednesday video message, the mayor also sent the community’s condolences to residents of Nova Scotia following the tragic mass murder there. He also noted that the Jumbo monument would be lighted in Nova Scotia’s blue and white colours.

Meanwhile, flags around StT and E have been lowered to half-staff.

* * *

A serious thought about these days from historian Frank Prothero:

“… I calculate that the current pandemic has killed .00001875% of the world population, compared to the 14th Century Black Plague that killed 33%.
Not to belittle the current situation which is a pandemic and a cruel killer, but unless we learn some lessons from this one, we could never handle anything much worse.
While covidiots worry about reopening the economy, there isn’t much thought being given to today’s problems, much less the future.
If all the clothing stores in North America are closed, I can’t see that we are at much of a loss. Everybody has more than they really need and if the haberdashers didn’t open for another year, nobody would suffer much. Same for furniture stores, electrical appliances, new cars, etc. We could get along for months and months without these…..and take the savings and give everyone a respectable guaranteed income and take some pressure off the environment.
And while we are at it, resume spending at an increased level on health and education.”


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* * *

There are plenty of serious thoughts these days to be thought.

A pal who has lost arts-worker employment because of the COVID-19 shutdown of all but essential services, says he tried to get thru on the phone to his bank about his mortgage but, eventually, just gave up to try again later.

“It was at least a three-hour wait.”

But he wonders why banks, though willing to defer mortgage payments, will continue to collect interest. (Well, since our conversation, one bank, though not his, has announced it will hold off.)

My pal notes that he, and many others, “are going to be struggling just to keep the lights on and food on the table.”

He adds, “It appears the banks are not going to suffer.

“I thought we were all in this together.”

Yep. Plenty of serious thoughts these days.

* * *

Neither snow nor rain nor a thing like COVID-19 is gonna stop Girl Guide cookies from getting through.

And social distancing hasn’t stopped this year’s campaign. The Guides can’t go door-to-door but grocery stores across the country have taken up the slack. We got our cookies on Thursday at Foodland. Other outlets for Ontario incl. Canadian Tire, Metro, Food Basics, Sobeys and Foodland.

* * *

But the weather this week.

Now, that’s something to really complain about. Cold. Rain. Sleet.

Over at Ron’s Auto, Tim Buchanan observes that someone obviously has overlooked making spring an Essential Season.

Stay well.