Since December, pandemic restrictions in the province have been a roller-coaster ride with more downs than ups, especially for organizations that help the community, but also rely heavily on their support, like The Fort Frances Legion Ladies Auxiliary Br. #29.
Josie Miller, auxiliary president, said it has been a difficult year for them as they have had to put all their community outreach on hold.
“Normally we would be holding monthly suppers,” Miller said. “For the community, we do the funeral luncheons and we donate back to the community any money that we raise.”
Miller also adds that once a year they would host their Remembrance Day tea which would have baking and craft sales in the lower part of the legion in the clubhouse where they would sell meat pies, cabbage rolls and perogies.
“That’s usually one of our big moneymakers for the year,” Miller said. “Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to do any of that.”
Miller said last they were able to open last fall, but they were still not able to hold their monthly suppers or funerals.
The auxiliary was able to have a virtual gala in November 2020 before the provincial lockdown in December. The last one the auxiliary would see for months.
“It was pj’s and pearls theme and we were hoping to have everybody come to the legion but we couldn’t so we did a Facebook live event and people gathered in small groups in their homes or individually,” Miller said.
Miller said attendees were able to come to the legion in small groups to buy tickets on items that they had at the penny auction. They also had a silent auction and a 50/50 draw among other things.
“They came and bought all their tickets and went home. We then delivered their meal to their house as they attended our Facebook Live event,” Miller added.
Miller said they had about 120 attendees, attributing their success to the limitations of the pandemic.
“I think it was because of the situation during the year, everybody was ready to do something,” Miller said.
The fundraising events allow the auxiliary to continue their work in the community. Their roster of places they donate to includes four $500 bursaries each year for high school students attending post-secondary education, the hospital, Community Chest, Backpack for Kids, Fort Frances Senior Centre, Bear Clan Patrol Fort Frances, Project Petunia, 908 Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron and the Salvation Army.
The number of organizations the auxiliary donates to changes every year, Miller added.
Although the virtual fundraiser last fall was a big success, Miller said they are going to hold off on anymore because of the time it took to plan and execute the first one.
Miller said they were originally going to hold the gala in person the first weekend of April last year but weeks before that the province announced it was going into lockdown.
“It got put on hold,” Miller said. “Then in the fall when things sort of opened up, we were trying to figure out how we could do it and one of the women came up with the virtual idea. We tried it and thank goodness it worked for us.”
Unfortunately, due to the everchanging provincial restrictions, the auxiliary has not been able to host any fundraisers this year. Miller said before the stay-at-home order in March, they were gearing up to sell turkey pot pies.
“The community has been wonderful in the fall when we were able to do fundraising like that,” Miller said. “We did chicken pot pies, lasagna, perogies, cabbage rolls. The community supported us like you wouldn’t believe.”
Miller said they are ready to offer their delicious assortment of food after COVID-19 restrictions allows them to host events again. When that day comes, Miller said they will be following the same format as last year where they took all their orders on Facebook and then notified those that purchased food that they could come for curbside pickup.