Benefit dinner raises $19,000

Drawing close to 280 people, the fifth-annual “Community Chest” benefit dinner last night at La Place Rendez-Vous raised about $19,000 to provide financial aid to local families facing medical expenses.
This topped last year’s benefit dinner, which drew 262 people and brought in $15,580. In 2003, the fundraiser garnered about $14,000.
The $20,000 total includes proceeds from dinner tickets, with the balance coming from auctions and raffles.
But fundraising aside, the highlight of the night for many on hand was a pair of speeches by local people aided by the “Community Chest” in recent years.
Lauren McCoy, who suffered from toxic epidermal necrolysis in 2002 when she temporarily lost 85 percent of her skin and had to reside in a burn victim unit for weeks on end, noted how grateful she and her family were the “Community Chest” existed to help them out.
The room was moved by her story, and gave McCoy a standing ovation when she left the podium.
Rick and Carolyn Stamarski also noted how helpful the “Community Chest” was when she underwent a successful liver transplant back on Oct. 17.
The tearful couple gave a cheque for $1,000 back to the “Community Chest” as a show of thanks.
Georges Blanc, co-owner of the Rendez-Vous, led the room in the singing of “O Canada” before Capt. Marlene Sandoval of the local Salvation Army said grace.
Larry Cousineau once again acted as emcee for the evening.
There also were very brief presentations by local Kiwanis president Robert Sletmoen, Sandra Hill, president of the Fort Frances Lions Club, Luke Schill of the Knights of Columbus, Linda Hamilton of the “Spirit of Christmas,” Blanc, and Sylvia Gunderson of the Legion Ladies Auxiliary Br. #29.
All spoke on how they enjoyed helping those in need through being a part of the “Community Chest” charity.
The evening concluded with a live auction conducted by Telford Advent. This, along with a silent auction, penny auction, and “Baker’s Dozen” raffle, featured numerous prizes donated by local business and individuals.
As in past years, Rendez-Vous staff donated their time to prepare and serve the meal. Several Borderland Thunder players also lent some helping hands.
And all of the food served was donated by the Rendez-Vous’ suppliers to reduce costs and thus maximize proceeds.
The “Community Chest” benefit dinner is organized each year by members of the local KCs, Kiwanis, and Lions clubs, the “Spirit of Christmas” committee, Legion Ladies Auxiliary Br. #29, and the Rendez-Vous staff.
Last year, the “Community Chest” signed 130 cheques totalling almost $49,400 in aid.