Looks of surprise and happy tears were how the week started at Trail United Church.
The day began with the Downtown Dinner Committee and food bank volunteers gathering in the upstairs hall for a photo with the church’s new cooler – the group had raised enough money through a silent auction and dinner back in December to pay for a large commercial-grade unit.
They met their $3,000 target through community contributions, and with funding help from Russ and Rose Beauchamp of Maglio Building Centre, the volunteers were able to up their purchase to a higher quality fridge with an extended warranty.
“What happened is Russ offered to help us, so we went in and gave him all the information for what we wanted,” Enid Van Beek explained before the group picture. “Russ suggested the model be upgraded so it had a longer use, and he offered to top up our funds, help order it, and deliver it.”
The look of shock didn’t come until after a dozen smiling faces said “cheese” for the camera.
That’s when Russ told the dinner committee he was paying the entire $3,000+ tab – and he planned to do so all along.
“This comes as a big surprise, it’s just unbelievable, ” said the dinner committee’s Trish Barber.
When Trish first approached Russ with information about the fridge, he knew right then he would pay for the unit, but chose to keep that to himself.
“I grew up in the United Church and sang in the choir, pretty much my whole childhood,” Russ says. “So when I heard they wanted (a commercial refrigerator), I thought, ‘okay, I’ll give them one.'”
Since the dinner committee began offering once-a-month free dinners in 2006, volunteers have fed approximately 8,000 locals.
As turnout continued to grow over the years – Van Beek estimates at least 700 dinners were served in 2017 – the dinner committee struggled with adequate refrigeration for food storage both pre and post meal.
“The dinner committee had the idea to do this, and all these other people helped us,” said Van Beek. “The community has done so much for us, they always help out, and now Russ. It’s awesome, because we are feeding community, it’s our mission.”
The new commercial cooler will be used by the dinner committee as well as the food bank and any other group who might rent the church hall throughout the year.
Funds raised through the silent auction can now pay for some downtown dinners and other kitchen needs.
Group photo includes members of the dinner committee, food bank and Russ and Pat Beauchamp