The final notice has been received and the Helping Hand, a mission of the Pentecostal Church, has until October 17th to vacate its location in the old Morrisburg High School, where it has been a source of clothing for those in need for the past 11 years.
Unfortunate, but true, the Helping Hand used clothing depot, answers a very big need in South Dundas and the surrounding area with an average of 2000-2,500 visitors benefiting from it each year.
The fact that the Helping Hand has to vacate is not a surprise as they were put on notice way back in 2009, that they were in their location on a monthly basis. With the upcoming renovation to the historic high school building to house an expansion to the St. Lawrence Medical and the South Dundas Municipal offices, the monthly basis has ended and the Helping Hand is closing.
The problem is that since they were put on notice of the eventual loss of their location they have been unable to find a new location that would be rent-free, or at the very least, very cheap.
“We have a lot of people not happy about it,” says Pentecostal minister, Rev. Duncan Perry. “But we can’t afford to go somewhere else. We have a couple thousand dollars (donations) a year coming in, but that is not enough to rent.”
“We don’t want to locate in the mall, and the only other building in town is the former St. Lawrence Parks building.”
According to Rev. Perry, that building is in such poor shape it is no longer an option, and he understands the Food Bank will replace the County Library in its lower level arena location should the library move to the high school, once renovated.
“I was really hoping they (municipality) would give us half of the bottom of the arena,” says Rev. Perry. “But I understand that it is going to the arena staff for a workshop/storage. It would have been a perfect fit for us.”
“We’ve been open for 11 years, and we are averaging 2,000 to 2,500 people a year. The $2,000 we receive in donations (goodwill donations from those who benefit from the Helping Hand, and donations from the community) is put back into the community.”
Recently, money was donated to the Breakfast Programs at Seaway High and Morrisburg Public Schools. “We’ve also given a lot to the Food Bank over the years.”
“People have come to us and told us that if we weren’t (Helping Hand) here, they didn’t know what they would do. The clothing donated to us is top notch and we made a decision at the start, that if we wouldn’t wear it, it wouldn’t be used.”
“One lady has been using it over and over through the years to clothe her children.”
“Those are the kind of stories we hear every week.”
“It is really amazing what we have done locally, and we’ve sent truckloads of clothes overseas when we couldn’t handle it all.”
The Helping Hand is run by volunteers and there is no charge for the clothing, although visitors can make goodwill donations.
“We have helped people from all over. We wish we could keep it open, we really do. It’s too bad, and I understand the town doesn’t have the money for a building.”
“I do believe the number of working poor is getting larger. It’s unfortunate we need a place like this but we do. If there was a place found, we wouldn’t even think about shutting it down. If they would reconsider letting us share with the Food Bank that would be ideal.”
That, however, according to Rev. Perry, is not an option at this time, and the Helping Hand is preparing to close by the October 17 deadline. Arrangements have been made for representatives from Agape in Cornwall to visit the facility, with the hope that they will be able to take the clothing.
Located at 40, Fifth Street West in Cornwall, the Agape Centre runs a Food Bank, Soup Kitchen and Thrift Shoppe.
South Dundas mayor Steven Byvelds says he is appreciative of the service the Helping Hand provides to the community. “It’s unfortunate, but hopefully they will find somewhere in the community.”
Byvelds confirmed that the long-term plan is for removal of the former Parks building. “That building is done, and we are only spending what we have to, to keep it going.”
He says there has been some discussion of moving the Food Bank to the arena location, but the discussions are very preliminary and nothing is decided and nothing can or will be decided until the final plans are in place for the high school.
Those plans, are for the St. Lawrence Medical Clinic to occupy the first floor (ground level) and the municipal offices to occupy some or all (if necessary) of the second floor. Once these two entities are accommodated then the remaining space, including the third floor, will be considered.
The Canada Day Organizing Committee has been hard at work raising funds for this year’s Canada Day festivities. A Valentine’s Day draw, just one of the group’s fundraising initiatives, took place on February 11th. The draw raised approximately $1,400. The first place prize, donated by the McIntosh Country Inn and Conference Centre, included accommodations and dinner for two. Bill and Beverley Aleck were the lucky winners of the first place prize. Carolyn Abrams won the second place prize, a $150 gift basket from Riley’s Valu-Mart. Bill Tupper took home the third place prize, a Valentine’s dinner for two at the Upper Canada Grill. The winners gathered on February 13th to collect their prizes. Hatherall, owner of Riley’s Valu-Mart, said, “we’re thankful for everyone’s contribution towards the fireworks and we’re hoping for another great celebration this year.”
“The interesting thing about spring trade shows is, not only are they great for local businesses, they’re great for communities as a whole,” said Donnie Bowes of the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce Home and Trade Show committee. “It’s a chance to shake off winter and get out and explore what the community has to offer.”
“And, there aren’t that many of these trade shows in our area,” he said. “Ours attracts more exhibitors and visitors every year.”
When the South Dundas Home and Trade Show opens its doors at the Morrisburg arena Friday April 11, the venue will truly have something for everyone.
“We are thrilled to be in a sold out position,” said Geraldine Fitzsimmons, manager of the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce.
Sold out, means that over 70 exhibitors will be on site for the two day event that runs Friday from 4-9 p.m., and Saturday starting at 9 a.m.
“This trade show is really a win-win for both the business community and the community at large,” said Joey Van Koppen, president of the trade show committee.
Organizers say, that the timing of this show is perfect.
After a long winter, with lots of time to plan for summer projects, people can now, go and see all the great products and services that area businesses offer.
One of the feature attractions of the South Dundas Home and Trade Show, is ‘Ask the experts’ where knowledgeable people in a wide variety of areas are on site to offer free advice.
This year the experts include Josh Beimond, who will discuss organic lawn maintenance Friday at 6:30 p.m. Barry Keicks is talking about the wild turkey hunt Friday at 7:30 p.m.
Flo McKenzie offering advice on flower and vegetable gardens Saturday at 10 a.m. At 11 a.m. well known fisherman Reno Viola will talk fishing. At 1 p.m. Karen Marshall will discuss decorating trends.
South Dundas Fire and Emergency Services will talk Fire Safety at 2 p.m. The final experts of this show will be cooking by Pampered Chef at 3 p.m.
“We have a really great lineup of experts this year, so we are really hoping people will take advantage of the opportunity,” said Fitzsimmons.
The Morrisburg and District Lions Club will have a great food concession on site throughout the event, offering a chicken barbecue Friday night, pancake breakfast Saturday morning followed by pulled pork for lunch.
As always, the South Dundas Chamber of Commerce is proud to offer, not only free admission to the show, but also a free door prize draw.
Ten door prizes of $100, to be spent at one of the trade show exhibitors businesses, will be given away.
Santa, Mrs. Claus and all their helpers are ready to ring in the festive season this Saturday, December 7, with the annual Morrisburg Santa Parade.
This is the 20th year that Santa’s local right hand man, George Davies, has organized the parade, which year after year delights all who attend.
Davies expects to see about four dozen floats, six bands and 40 walkers participate in this year’s event.
“That’s a little bigger than last year,” said Davies.
This year the participating bands are coming from Brockville, Ottawa, Montreal West, Kemptville and two from Cornwall.
He also mentioned that Morrisburg Public School will have students travelling the parade route with shopping carts collecting food donations for the Dundas County Food Bank.
He urges everyone to support their efforts by bringing a food item for the collection. (The Morrisburg location of the food bank is especially in need of cold cereal, crackers and vegetables.)
The floats will gather in the Canadian Tire and Upper Canada Playhouse parking lots around 10:30 a.m. The parade sets off along the route promptly at 11 a.m.
The route winds through town along St. Lawrence, to Fifth, to Augusta, to First, to Ottawa, to Maud, to Sir James Morris to Fifth and then along Dairy to Main Street, where it travels the length of the Morrisburg Village Plaza and then on to the Morrisburg Fire Station, where it ends up. There kids can have a snack and greet Santa after the parade.
“I’m hoping to get a really good crowd of spectators out this year,” said Davies.
“More support allows us to increase the calibre of the parade next year,” said Davies who is working to get a special entry from the Toronto area to join next year’s event.
While George and his wife look after organizing the event themselves, on the big day George has many “elves” who come out to help him ensure that everything runs smoothly. He is very appreciative of the efforts of the elves who include both family and friends.
This year, Davies has been a little more worried about the parade logistics than other years, because he has lost one of the parking lots always used as a staging area to construction. On top of that, First Street has been under construction, but Davies said Monday, that the road patch work is supposed to be finished this week, allowing the parade to stick to its traditional route.