Tremendous support shown for community food bank, thrift store

Manitoulin Food Bank/Thrift Store volunteer Linda Gilchrist, left, and Marnie Hall, executive director of Manitoulin Family Resources, stand by some of the food available at the food bank.

MINDEMOYA – Since its inception in 1984, Manitoulin Family Resources (MFR) has received tremendous support from the community in keeping its food bank and thrift store shop shelves full in terms of items donated to each part of the agency, and tremendous volunteer support in operating both.

“We are really, really blessed with the tremendous support we have from members of the community, with donations to the food bank and items for the thrift shop,” said volunteer Linda Gilchrist, food security program co-ordinator.  “And we have excellent volunteer support as well.”

Marnie Hall, executive director of MFR, agreed.

“We receive so much community support for the thrift shop and the food bank. People make sure our donation sheds are filled virtually every day. They are often jam-packed with food and items for the thrift store which is fantastic.” 

However, “we do get some donations that unfortunately, we can’t accept,” said Ms. Hall. “We can’t accept things that are not retail-worthy items.” For example, the thrift shop can’t accept mattresses, soiled clothing or bedding, broken or chipped dishes or appliances that are not in good working condition.

“We can’t accept furniture, for the simple reason, we simply don’t have the space to store it,” said Ms. Hall. As well, because MFR doesn’t know the history or expiry date of items like infant toddler equipment such as car seats and baths, the thrift store can’t accept these. 

“We are busy and have lots of items, but we always have room for more clothing, for example,” said Ms. Gilchrist, displaying a clothes rack with space for more items. The thrift shop carries virtually anything a family would need from clothes for men, women and children, shoes, housewares, paintings, puzzles, books, even a keyboard to play music and much, much more.  

Ms. Gilchrist noted on October 5, they will be holding an auction as part of the MFR’s 35th anniversary. 

The Haven House opened in 1994, “and we’ve grown a lot since then,” said Ms. Hall. She explained, “at our agency’s 35th anniversary on October 5, there will be a day full of activities, children’s events, a free barbecue, music, the auction and a couple of speeches being made by dignitaries.”

“It will be a fun day and is open to everyone. We encourage all members of the community to come out and enjoy the celebration,” said Ms. Hall. 

It was pointed out the thrift shop and food bank are both staffed by volunteers. “The agency donates some of the food items and we are fortunate to receive some funding through the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board for some of the food purchases,” continued Ms. Hall. “As well, we have some other sponsors that support food purchases and donations for the annual Christmas food baskets program.”

It was pointed out the food bank and thrift store building was constructed through community support and fundraising. As well, additional funding was provided by the Trillium Foundation.

A plaque hanging in the thrift store recognizes its major donors including Food Banks Canada, Manitoulin Transport, Ontario Trillium Foundation, Sprott Foundation, United Way Sudbury and Nipissing Districts, Farm Credit Canada, Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation, Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board, and staff volunteers Gwen Young, Edith Dianne Armstrong and Edith Cole who have all passed away. 

“We also receive a lot of one-time donations,” said Ms. Hall, who pointed out as well for the food bank, Foodland donates food a couple of times a month and Dean’s Valu Mart in Gore Bay regularly provides food donations to the food bank as well.