Gift that keeps on giving

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By Adam Brazeau
CORNWALL, Ontario – With less than a week to Christmas, three charities delivered a gift that will keep the community fed for the holidays.

Like Santa's workshop, the Cornwall Armoury buzzed with activity as hundreds of volunteers distributed more than 1,300 care baskets through the Children's Christmas Fund.

The Cornwall & District Service Club Council initiative has spent the last 60 years helping local families in need at Christmas.

For 2013, they teamed up with the Agape Centre and the Salvation Army to make sure Dec. 25 is celebrated by the entire city.

"The community has been fantastic," said Lori Greer, Agape Centre operations manager.

Nearly $45,000 was raised to meet the demand for food, and a total of 1,600 toys were collected. Families were given gifts, a Christmas turkey or ham as well as all the trimmings.

"This is going to put food in our cupboards for a few weeks," said Mark Munro.

The 23-year-old Cornwall man has been struggling to find work and lives with his pregnant wife.

"I'm sincerely thankful," he said. "It would be hectic if we didn't have this to rely on."

Beverly Woods, Salvation Army volunteer, noted how well the event was organized which made it easy for food banks to work collectively.

"What I see is a change of times, we're handling more people," said Woods.

Terry Muir, Children's Christmas Fund board member, said some of the volunteers are only a few steps away from needing the service themselves.

"Every year the need goes up slightly. A lot of the increase we see now is the working poor that are trying to raise a family on a minimum wage job," said Muir.

Before a local bakery closed, it was also tradition for up to 60 Service Club Council members to meet and bake hundreds of loaves.  

Over the past 60 years, volunteers have helped the Children's Christmas Fund raise more than $1,050,000. That means more than 27,500 families have been given a better Christmas.

When Joan and Pete Poirier started volunteering with the fund 20 years ago they delivered baskets right to people's doors.

"It's really important to help out because we have a lot of people in need," said Joan.

Organizations: Christmas Fund, Agape Centre, Salvation Army Cornwall District Service Club Council

Geographic location: Cornwall, Beverly Woods

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