Do­na­tions help keep hunger at bay

Simcoe Reformer - Times-Reformer - - FRONT PAGE - MONTE SONNENBERG SIM­COE RE­FORMER

DELHI – Bruce Martin’s fam­ily had a tough time of it dur­ing the Great De­pres­sion.

Hunger was a fre­quent and un­wel­come guest.

Martin’s fam­ily oc­ca­sion­ally went with­out food. Some­times, the only food in the house for days on end was raw oat­meal in a large cloth bag.

Martin’s life im­proved con­sid­er­ably when he moved to Delhi in 1950 and set up a suc­cess­ful refrigeration busi­ness. He had a front-row seat for tobacco’s best years and pros­pered along with the rest of the com­mu­nity.

But Martin never for­got the hard times or the fact they never re­ally go away for some house­holds.

Martin, 89, has been giv­ing ever since. On Satur­day, the man who has anony­mously do­nated hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars in Nor­folk and beyond al­lowed him­self to be in­tro­duced.

After speak­ing of his hard­ships in Lon­don, On­tario, as a child, Martin said “I told my­self that -- if I were ever in a po­si­tion to help oth­ers -I would.

“I’ve done well in busi­ness and I’ve in­vested well. And I’ve spent nearly all of it.”

Martin has done well. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with Wilkin­son’s Your In­de­pen­dent Gro­cer in down­town Delhi, Martin has do­nated nearly $20,000 an­nu­ally to the Shar­ing Pantry food bank for as many years as he can re­mem­ber.

“What­ever they need, the lady there (Ruth Brown) comes and tells us and I buy it,” Martin said.

Matt Wilkin­son, owner of the Main Street gro­cery store, says there isn’t a word of ex­ag­ger­a­tion to what Martin says. Wilkin­son says the Canada Rev­enue Agency oc­ca­sion­ally in­quires about Martin’s char­i­ta­ble claims. Wilkin­son tells them they can come down and look at the re­ceipts if they’d like.

“He’s re­de­fined for me what the word `gen­eros­ity’ means,” Wilkin­son said. “I thought I knew what that word meant till I met Bruce. He’s be­come a good friend. Bruce is from the com­mu­nity and wants to give back to the com­mu­nity.”

En­sur­ing the Shar­ing Pantry has what it needs has been a team ef­fort. Martin has the funds while Wilkin­son has the sup­ply chain to sell at cost.

“We don’t make money off the food bank,” Wilkin­son said. “I don’t want to make money off the food bank. I feel sup­port­ing it is my so­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity for be­ing the only gro­cer in town. I’m proud to do it.”

Food bank representative Andy Fitch says Delhi is well-armed against hunger thanks to the gen­er­ous sup­port of peo­ple like Martin.

“He’s been very im­por­tant to the functioning of the food bank, along with ev­ery­one else who has do­nated money and food,” Fitch said. “I don’t know how we’d func­tion with­out these do­na­tions.”

Martin fi­nally came for­ward dur­ing the Nor­folk OPP Aux­il­iary’s an­nual Christmas food drive this week­end. Satur­day’s drop-off was in front of Wilkin­son’s store. While there, Martin do­nated an­other $1,000 to the Delhi food bank.

The aux­il­iary and Delhi fire­fight­ers col­lected sev­eral carts of non­per­ish­able food items as well as $3,200 in cash do­na­tions for the Shar­ing Pantry.

Other groups Martin has sup­ported over the years in­clude the Delhi Com­mu­nity Health Cen­tre, the re­cent li­brary ex­pan­sion in Delhi, Sal­va­tion Army com­mu­nity out­reach pro­grams in Sim­coe, the Delhi Ro­tary Club, the Ju­ravin­ski Cancer Cen­tre in Hamil­ton, Nor­folk Gen­eral Hospi­tal, and the win­ter lights pro­gram at the dam in Quance Park.

The Shar­ing Pantry food bank is lo­cated on Ar­gyle Av­enue in Delhi near the in­ter­sec­tion of James Street (High­way 3). The food bank serves be­tween 15 and 25 needy fam­i­lies a week. Food parcels are avail­able from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. ev­ery Thurs­day.

MONTE SONNENBERG / SIM­COE RE­FORMER

A secret Santa serv­ing the Delhi area for years fi­nally stepped for­ward on the week­end. Heís Bruce Martin, 89, of Delhi, at cen­tre. In col­lab­o­ra­tion with Matt Wilkin­son, right, owner of Wilkin­son’s Your In­de­pen­dent Gro­cer, Martin has do­nated tens of thou­sands of dol­lars over the years to the Shar­ing Pantry food bank in Delhi. At left is food bank representative Andy Fitch, who re­ceived an­other $1,000 cheque from Martin on Satur­day.

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