Thanks to the Ladies Auxiliary of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch #48, the Morrisburg and District Lions Club charity, the Angel Tree Fund, has increased its capabilities by $1,090. In the Legion Hall, on December 15th, Inez Bilmer (left) and Rita Fowler (right) handed over the large sum to the Angel Tree Fund representative, Wayne Domanko (center). Domanko said the Ladies Auxiliary has “always been extremely generous to the Angel Tree Fund.” He went on to say, “it’s always nice when the Lions and the Legion can cooperate to help others. It’s very much appreciated by the Lions Club and the Angel Tree Fund.” According to Domanko, there are over 200 children’s names on the Angel Tree this year.
There was some nervous peeking through the curtains, and some very excited whispers backstage. Occasionally teacher Kate Veinotte’s calm voice could be heard quieting pre-show jitters.
However, when they finally stepped on to the Playhouse stage Friday, July 20, the 27 children who took part in the 2012 Junior Drama School class at Upper Canada Playhouse behaved like seasoned troupers. They put on a great show.
“Welcome to the first ever Upper Canada Playhouse Olympics,” said senior students Conor Veinotte and Grant Wells, who assisted with the junior school last week. The two narrators introduced the participating nations, cheered on the determined competitors and (tongue in cheek) praised the sponsors of the wonderful UCPO.
“We have had a very busy week,” teacher Kate Veinotte told the large crowd of parents, grandparents and friends who came out to see the culminating performance of the drama school.
“This was an incredibly creative group we had this year. We decided that the Olympic Games were going to be the theme of this year’s school, and we brainstormed a lot of ideas for the play. I asked the kids, if you could come up with Olympic events of your own, what would you put in the games? What you are seeing is their ideas, complete with commercials.”
Of course, every Olympics must begin with the parade of nations. And if the nations at the UCPO were a little unexpected, well, that was just part of the fun.
The nation of New Yolk solemnly promised to “scramble” its opponents. Spudland swore its team would “mash these guys.” Limbotania defiantly vowed their athletes would “go low” while Seekey Land expected to be the craftiest contenders for the hide and seek competition. And Alphadopia made it clear that its team members were utterly confident of capturing s-p-e-l-l-i-n-g bee gold.
The Games were naturally thrilling, with loud cheers from the audience.
When they won the egg-and-spoon race, New Yolk stood for their anthem The Chicken Dance. Spudland won the potato sack race and proudly sang their anthem “One potato, two potato, three potato…”
After their sweeping victory in the limbo, Limbotania’s anthem, The Limbo Rock, had everyone toe tapping while Seekey Land’s dynamic gold in Hide and Seek led to a proud chorus of “Where is Thumpkin?”
As for Alphadopia’s taking of the laurels in the spelling bee, well, the whole audience could join in their national anthem “A B C D E F G, H I…”
Everyone knows how important commercial spots at the Olympics are to advertisers, so it was no surprise to see these young actors present some priceless ads.
Sweet Dreams Energy Drink guaranteed that athletes drinking it would get ahead. Cloud Shoes promised to be both “heaven on your feet” and “good for your soles.” The bilingual ad for Mattress Mart Shoe Depot claimed shoes so comfortable “they’re like mattresses for your feet.” And Zipster Drink declared its enormous benefits to athletes and “only $2.99!”
The show ended with the five teams, in the spirit of true sportsmanship and global friendship, passing around the coloured hoops and creating on stage the proud symbols of the modern Olympics.
Jackie McCormick, stage manager at Upper Canada Playhouse, worked with the class, teaching how props are made, and ran the lights for the show. Rosemary Laurin came to help for the week, and arrived with treats for the young actors at the end of the play.
Artistic director Donnie Bowes made sure that everyone went home with a certificate of accomplishment, telling the children they had created a “wonderful, wonderful show.”
“The kids had so much fun,” Kate Veinotte said. “They came up with everything, the sports, the ads, the countries and the anthems. They were incredibly hard-working and very creative. I found myself wishing there really was a Kids Olympics.”
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.