Legion donates $25,000 to local charities, including firefighters’ associations, Hospice, Fairvern

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Main photo: Members of the Huntsville Lake of Bays Fire Department (from left) Jamie-Lea Reay, Trevor Drennan, D’Arcy LeClaire, Ryan Elbe, Ross Clark, Andrew Clinton, and Tyler Pearce with the department’s UTV.

The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 232 is a quiet but mighty supporter of those in need in Huntsville.

Through the legion’s charitable foundation grants, a province-wide program, local organizations will receive about $25,000 this year to help purchase equipment needed to serve the community.

“We donate a lot of money back to the community and we thought it was time people understand what we do here,” said Betty Smith, past president of branch 232.

The $25,000 will be divided among the Huntsville Lake of Bays Fire Department’s station 1 and 3 associations ($5,000 each), Hospice Huntsville ($3,000), Fairvern Nursing Home ($6,500) and other charities.

“Any funds raised through the variety of activities hosted by the Port Sydney Firefighters’ Association are with the focus of improving the service we can provide to the community,” said Ross Clark, secretary of the Station 3 Port Sydney Firefighters’ Association. “We are incredibly proud to serve as the men and women on our department, and we cannot do the things we do without the support of all those who donate, and in particular, grants like the Royal Canadian Legion offers.”

The Station 1 association put the funds toward new TICs (thermal imaging cameras) and Station 3 to equipment for its UTV. Hospice Huntsville will be purchasing some new beds.

The legion offers this grant once a year. An organization can apply two years in a row.

“Grant opportunities like the legion offers provides opportunities to enhance the ability of our fire department to service our community,” said Clark. “For Station 3, we were able to use the grant money to outfit our UTV for back country rescues by adding a slide-in unit to accommodate a third emergency responder, as well as the patient on a spinal board/stokes basket. In addition, we were able to purchase light bars for both the front and the back of the UTV to help with visibility during late night/early morning calls. Our hall responds to numerous medical calls in our catchment area and our area is filled with recreational trails; the additions to our UTV are incredible.”

But that’s not all the legion will be donating this year. Branch 232 also raised $14,000 with their Catch the Ace draw, all of which will remain in the community.

The legion donates to those in dire need, whether they’re a veteran or not.

“Who else is here do it?” questioned Bruce Frank, president of branch 232. “The other clubs are too small, they don’t generate the revenue and we’re the largest volunteer organization in Canada. We’re open to the community.”

The legion raises its fundraising dollars from various events held at the legion such as weddings, and celebrations of life through rental of its hall.

“We have a very active ladies auxiliary that raises a lot of money,” said Smith. “They organize the weddings and the legion gets its portion through the hall rental. We have a huge facility upstairs. We also have a lot of members that donate. Our biggest generator of revenue is our Tuesday dinners and Friday luncheons.”

“We’re not an old boys organization any more,” added Frank.

Smith and Frank encourage more people to come out and experience what the legion has to offer. You don’t need to be a veteran or a member to participate in their weekly games of pool, darts or shuffleboard. But for those interested in becoming a member the fee is $65 a year.

“The more people that use the hall, the more money we have to give back to the community,” said Smith. “We have lots of good entertainment here too. We encourage the community to come out. We’ll never forget our roots but we’re trying to cater more to everyone and open to the younger generations.”

The legion is also looking for more volunteers. “We have very few people doing a lot of work,” said Smith.

Those interested can contact Betty Smith at 705-205-1103.

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