Local fundraising: a grand tradition

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Trying to decide among an endless list of summer fundraisers? Here’s how I see it: You can send your cash to a far-off charity and never really know where your money went. Or you can hand it over to your neighbours and watch it grow. On July 28, two community groups—one old and one new—will be joining forces for a big day in Honeywood.

For nearly half a century, neighbours have gathered over a mid-summer meal in support of the North Dufferin Community Centre. The first fundraiser, following a winter fire that razed the wooden building, was held in August 1965 and everything on the table was donated: beef, salads and pies. Diners sat on straw bales in the parking lot. Even the barbecue was borrowed.

That first dinner raised $2,200. When you consider that last year’s event raised about $6,000, it’s clear that the early gathering was remarkable for its generosity. (For cost comparison: Ontario Hydro erected six miles of high-power lines to serve the new ice plant for $2,500.) Along with talent and materials donated by neighbours, the funds raised were pooled with government contributions to rebuild by the following winter, with the improvements of artificial ice and a new party room.

For many years, the fundraiser was an all-day event, including baseball and other outdoor fun, followed by the dinner. Recent years have been quieter, though, with people showing up for the barbecue and heading right back to the car. Donations have declined. Volunteers are getting thin on the ground. But the need has not diminished. Maintenance costs for the large building are high. A replacement Zamboni is on the horizon. And a few bucks would freshen up that now-aging party room.

“Times have changed,” notes Mayor Paul Mills. “We need younger people to work with us now to keep the community centre going.”

Enter Stomp the Mega Quarry, a “first-annual” upstart devised to benefit the Melancthon-Mulmur citizens’ group, NDACT. Rather than compete, the event organizers decided to share the spotlight for a day.

The idea behind the Stomp is to get people out on the roads and trails to deepen their knowledge of the region that would be most affected by the proposed quarry. The focus is on food and water, and maintaining oversight on resource use in the region. The “Stomp” will include a lookout point where a large picture frame will capture the view – ideal for photographs and for contemplation on how that view may change in the future.

“This is not a short fight,” says race director Maria Burton. “We need young people to care about this issue because it will transcend generations.”

The races are set up to suit all generations, from a 5-kilometre stroll to a full marathon. You can walk or run the 5-kilometre, 10-kilometre, half- or full-marathon course. Or you can ride your bike on a 10-kilometre or 20-kilometre course. There is also a kids’ mad dash in the centre of the village.

The kick-off happens before the heat of the day, with the first bikers heading out at 7 am. Those who prefer a more leisurely start can sign up for the shorter walk or run starting about 9 am. With all that action, appetites should be keen for a Honeywood-style barbecue lunch and an afternoon of live music in the outdoor tent. Following the race ceremonies, the party will keep on going with the traditional dinner in the arena.

This year, the party starts early and it’s going to take a big crowd to pull this thing off. Sounds like we’ve come full circle in a half-century. Won’t you join the party?

“I think we can make a difference,” says Maria. “And it’s a great way to celebrate the area.”

Get your registration from the NDACT website (ndact.com) and sign up online, by email (stomp@ndact.com) or fax (519 925-2866). You can pick up registration forms from Shelburne Physiotherapy (167 Centre St., Shelburne) or French’s Flowers (124 Main St., Shelburne). Dinner tickets are also available at the door. If you think you’d like to join, as a stroller or racer, sign up today and help your neighbours plan this awesome day.

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