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Cup of Joe – Charitable Giving at Christmas Time

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Welcome friends, pull up a chair and grab a Cup of Joe and let’s talk about some of the great things happening in our community like charitable giving at Christmas time…

We are down to the final 10-day countdown until Christmas 2016 is upon us, and people are frantically beginning or ending their Christmas shopping and preparing for the big day. Mother Nature has cooperated by giving us what most Canadians believe to be traditional Christmas weather, complete with a decent covering of snow.

Throughout the community various organizations and agencies who we rely on to assist those in need throughout the year are particularly busy trying to reach out to their clients in a special way at Christmas. Last night I had two youngsters at my door collecting for the annual Assumption College High School can drive. What memories that brought back to me. As a graduate of Assumption from 1970, I spent four years collecting cans with my classmates at Christmas time for the poor and needy. What a sense of satisfaction that gave us, and how it made Christmas feel so much more real.

A few weeks ago, I purchased my Goodfellows’ Newspaper in the intersection of Tecumseh and Ouellette from former newspaper boys and girls who are now all grown up. According to the Goodfellows website, they are “best known for our annual holiday newspaper sales campaign, our organization has grown to become a major source of community support and giving throughout the year. From providing Christmas meals and gifts to our weekly food bank, school breakfast programs to supplying children with shoes and boots, we help thousands of families in need every year. It all goes back to our original mission over a century ago: to help those that cannot help themselves.”

And then throughout 18 locations in Windsor, Tecumseh and LaSalle, you’ll see the traditional Salvation Army bell ringers collecting donations. Assistant Executive Director of the Salvation Army in Windsor, Paul Rideout, told me that this year’s goal is to generate $270,000. As of this blog posting $145,000 has been raised, putting them about $15,000 behind their targeted goal. The funds they raise replenish their food bank and ensure that 1053 kids from over 400 families will have a special toy this year. Rideout tells me, “we have 54 volunteers each day at our 18 locations but certainly welcome and appreciate more volunteers to assist with the Salvation Army kettles.” If you have the time please contact them at 519-971-5878.

I’ve just completed a month of emceeing Christmas Santa Parades with the Windsor Parade Corporation under the direction of Maggie Durocher and Dave Grimaldi and their cast of volunteers. Thousands of Windsor and Essex County residents lined the streets in Kingsville, Amherstburg, Windsor (Olde Sandwich Towne) and Essex. Each parade boasted 40 to 50 entries of local and international marching bands, dignitaries, various horse mounted units, in addition to wonderfully decorated floats and inflatables – and, of course, Santa and Mrs. Claus! Children and adults were mesmerized by the sights and sounds of this year’s offerings. The Windsor Parade was taped by CogecoTV and can be seen Thursday, December 15 at 7:30pm; Sunday, December 18 at 3pm; and Thursday, December 22 at 7pm. on CogecoTV (HD 700; cable11).

Another Windsor tradition is the annual Sparky’s Toy Drive organized and run by The Windsor Professional Firefighter’s Association (IAFF Local 455). The Firefighter’s this year are led by Bob

Sparky and the crew at the 19th Annual Biz X Awards Gala. Photo by Lori Deschaine

Bailey, Sean Costello and Rob Kouzoukas. New unwrapped toys for children under 14 (and monetary donations) are collected at commercial locations, along parade routes, at fire hall stations and at special events. Among the special events Sparky and the firefighters attended a Windsor Spitfires game, plus they attended the 19th Annual Biz X Awards, where we raised over $9,200 in cash and toys, it turned out to be a truckload of toys for Windsor’s kids.

Last year Sparky’s Toy Drive presented over 2700 bags of toys for needy children and hope to exceed that number this year given the influx of immigrant families from Syria. What an amazing gesture for these new youngsters in their new country to receive brand-new toys from strangers at Christmas time.

The Windsor Downtown Mission, located on Victoria Avenue just south of Wyandotte, has been a longtime fixture on our Windsor landscape providing food, shelter and assistance to the homeless in our community. Their current volunteer roster of 750, it is led by Ron Dunn, the Executive Director and CEO. They provide overnight accommodations for the homeless as well as three meals a day. For 2016 they provided an excess of 14,700 safe night accommodations and more than 720 meals a day.

As part of the their annual Christmas Party at the mission, clients were treated to a concert in the upstairs church by Music Express and a special meal served by the children in grades 6, 7, & 8 from Gosfield North Public School. Of course, Santa was in in attendance and presented the 230 attendees with special gifts. On Christmas Day, over 200 traditional turkey Christmas meals will be served to those who attend.

The Windsor Downtown Mission Food Bank has recently relocated to 875 Ouellette Avenue. They are always in need of volunteers, food and hygiene products and monetary donations. For more information, you can contact them at 519-973-5573.

These are only a few of the many civic agencies and charitable organizations with a very special outreach at Christmas time. The ones I have described here are by no means the most important ones doing great work at Christmas. There are countless other agencies and organizations doing similarly good and noble work.

For all of us the real challenge of our Christmas charitable giving is to extend it beyond Christmas and throughout the year. It is easy in the emotions and trappings of Christmas to reach into our pockets and our food shelves and share with others. But let us always remember that the hunger and the needs of so many in our community are a lived experience 12 months a year.

On behalf of Deborah Jones and Jack Rosenberg and all the staff at Biz X Magazine, I wish all of you a very safe and Merry Christmas and the very best in 2017!

Finally, let me leave you with this thought from my Facebook:

I would like to remind you that there are people who, for whatever reason, are not looking forward to Christmas. Some people are not surrounded by large wonderful families.

Some of us have problems during the holidays and are overcome with great sadness when we remember the loved ones who are not with us any longer.

For many it is their first Christmas without a particular loved one, and many others lost loved ones at Christmas. And, many people have no one to spend these times with and are besieged by loneliness. We all need caring, loving thoughts right now. Do all that you can this Christmas to support all those who have family problems, health struggles, job issues, worries of any kind and just need to know that someone cares.

Do it for all of us, for nobody is immune to the pain and loneliness that isolation at Christmas time can bring …. “

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Joe McParland
Joe retired January 2015 as a Superintendent from a 26 year career with the Canada Border Services Agency in Windsor. Since then he has jettisoned into a number of exciting new opportunities. Joe is in his 13th year as a volunteer with TVCogeco as their on air personality at Windsor City and Essex County Council Meetings, and his 11 years as a registered Ontario Marriage Officiant. Joe now shares his talents and numerous life experiences with Biz X as a regular blogger, columnist and any other “Joe – Jobs” we can find for him.