Community Chest still active in the region

Merna Emara
Staff Writer

Community Chest, a Fort Frances volunteer-based organization, is still working to serve residents of the Rainy River District with medical emergencies.

The organization that has been running for 25 years helps those with unexpected medical emergency bills often not covered by insurance.

Linda Hamilton, who works Community Chest, gave the example of a mom going into premature labour, having to travel to Thunder Bay. Community Chest would then be able to help with travel expenses, including but not limited to gas, food, hotel and plane tickets.

“We don’t expect people to pay it back,” Hamilton said. “We help people when they’re under a lot of stress. When somebody has to go to Toronto, for a transplant of some sort, some things are not paid for. Your family that goes with you has to stay in a hotel at a couple hundred dollars a night. Lots of people don’t plan for those things.”

Hamilton said operations at the organization have not been interrupted because of COVID-19. She is working with Joelle Paull, Linda Blanc and George Blanc.

“We’re operating pretty much the same way as we always do. When I worked, clients could stop at my workplace, but I’m at home now,” Hamilton said. “They have to phone and they say what’s happening. We then text the town and say give a cheque to this person, and they have to pick it up at the town hall themselves.”

All of the funding Community Chest receives are donated from communities in the Rainy River District. This includes donations and other fundraisers such as auctions, garage sales, concerts and bazaars. Funds also include in memory and birthday donations.

Hamilton added that in an attempt to give back to the community, families that were helped by Community Chest will often hold barbecues and donate the proceeds they raise.

Hamilton also said they recently received a donation from Holmlund Financial, keeping them in good shape to continue providing help to the community.

“We haven’t personally done our own fundraisers for quite a while because we seem to get enough with just people giving us donations,” Hamilton said. “We have the attitude that we are not competing with somebody else that really needs it.”

Hamilton said a big reason for their success is having the town manage their finances.

“It would not work if the town did not manage our money,” Hamilton said. “They issue tax receipts, they do accounting for us, they do a statement at the end of the year and they do the income tax. If we had to do that, we would have to be a bigger organization than we are.”

According to their website, in addition to the recent donation from Holmlund Financial, Community Chest has had enough funds to operate with the help of La Place Rendezvous, Fort Frances Kiwanis Club, Fort Frances Lions Club, Knights of Columbus Council 2766, Legion Auxiliary B29 and The Spirit of Christmas event.