Christ­mas car­ing in St. Thomas in Bun­nell’s Peo­ple

St. Thomas Times-Journal - - FRONT PAGE - ERIC BUN­NELL er­icbun­nells­peo­ple@gmail.com

The 100th an­niver­sary Sun­day of the end of the Great War will ring out in St. Thomas, as it will across the coun­try.

At least three lo­cal churches will toll their bells 100 times on Sun­day evening — once ev­ery five sec­onds — to mark the cen­ten­nial of the end of the war that was sup­posed to end all wars.

They are old St. Thomas’s, Trin­ity Angli­can — where the colours of this com­mu­nity’s own First World War 91st Bat­tal­ion are re­tired, and are worth a spe­cial visit if you’ve never seen them — and Cen­tral United Church.

Dave Mathers will be ring­ing Cen­tral’s bell. The com­mem­o­ra­tion was sug­gested by the United Church of Canada, he says (and, sim­i­larly, says Rev. Canon Nick Wells, old St. Thomas’s chap­lain, by the Angli­can Church of Canada).

It is a part of the Royal Cana­dian Le­gion’s Bells of Peace ini­tia­tive, and Dave shares a link sent him by brother-in-law Brig. Gen Gre­gory Young (ret.). This is what Bells of Peace says: “Bells of Peace marks the oc­ca­sion 100 years ago, when church bells across Canada rang out to share the news: the First World War was over. As the sun goes down, a bell or bells will be rung 100 times at com­mu­nity lo­ca­tions across the coun­try to hon­our the sac­ri­fices of Cana­di­ans who served in the 1914-1918 War, and to re­mem­bers the hor­rors of war, the costs to so­ci­ety, and the prom­ise of peace.

”As bells toll to re­mem­ber the 650,000 who served, close to 66,000 killed, and more than 172,000 wounded, many com­mu­ni­ties will also com­mem­o­rate the lo­cal peo­ple and events that link their com­mu­nity to the Great War. A sound­wave of bells across the na­tion will help tell a his­tor­i­cal jour­ney of Canada’s ser­vice and sac­ri­fice dur­ing the First World War.”

(Ear­lier in the day, that ser­vice and sac­ri­fice is to be qui­etly trib­uted dur­ing the an­nual Re­mem­brance Day ex­er­cises at the St. Thomas Ceno­taph, with an hon­our guard and of­fi­ciants wear­ing pe­riod uni­form, incl. Wells, who is Royal Cana­dian Le­gion Lord El­gin Branch 41 padre.)

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Christ­mas Care opened its doors this week in St. Thomas and by Thurs­day, ap­prox­i­mately 100 in­di­vid­u­als and fam­i­lies had reg­is­tered for the hol­i­day cheer the agency will pro­vide.

That num­ber can only climb. Last year, Christ­mas Care de­liv­ered gro­ceries and hol­i­day tur­keys or hams, along with hats, scarves and mit­tens, and gifts for chil­dren, to more than 3,800 per­sons, incl. over 1,100 chil­dren and more than 400 teens.

But nec­es­sary com­mu­nity sup­port for the an­nual cam­paign which dates to 1980 when the city and var­i­ous so­cial ser­vices de­cided to pool their in­di­vid­ual ef­forts, is good, says co co-or­di­na­tor Carl Bagshaw. He shares du­ties with An­dreana Collins.

“There’s been a nice start to do­na­tions,” he said Thurs­day at the agency’s new lo­ca­tion this year, in part of the for­mer Zeller’s at El­gin Cen­tre (the new name for a new El­gin Mall).

The Stars are ex­pected Nov. 14 with re­sults of their an­nual drive, Carl says. St. Thomas po­lice are ask­ing the pub­lic to stuff a cruiser with do­na­tions Nov. 16 and 17 at Su­per­store and Wal­mart. And, of course, St. Thomas fire­fight­ers will col­lect non-per­ish­ables Nov. 17 at the St. Thomas Op­ti­mist Santa Claus Pa­rade.

On Thurs­day morn­ing, Christ­mas Care was rel­a­tively quiet.

“It starts get­ting pretty crazy from about the mid­dle of next week, on­ward.”

Reg­is­tra­tion con­tin­ues 10 a.m.4 p.m. week­days thru Dec. 14. The agency also will visit shut-ins.

The Christ­mas Care phone is 519-637-0710.

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Ready? Set? Click. On­line vot­ing be­gins next week in Pi­o­neer Seed’s Here’s to Home­towns con­test. It’s a pro­mo­tion to award $50,000 each to four com­mu­nity devel­op­ment ini­tia­tives in On­tario, Que­bec and Eastern Canada.

Cast­ing lo­cal eyes on the prize are boost­ers back­ing devel­op­ment of a Fin­gal Her­itage Park to cre­ate a com­mu­nity gather­ing space.

“We’re a close-knit com­mu­nity with many se­niors and grow­ing fam­i­lies,” they say in their sub­mis­sion, headed by Ross Bur­gar and Len Lynch.

“We don’t have a gen­eral store. We don’t have a town hall. But we do have a green space with ideal po­ten­tial in the mid­dle of town.”

But what they do have is stiff com­pe­ti­tion. There are 38 On­tario nom­i­nees, in­clud­ing im­prove­ment to Bel­mont’s Union Park, where pro­mot­ers say the project will give res­i­dents “a chance to be­come health­ier and hap­pier in their home­town.”

The project in­cludes in­stal­la­tion of new park fur­ni­ture and flower beds, and an ac­ces­si­ble trail with mul­ti­ple fit­ness cen­tres.

To see nom­i­nees and video sub­mis­sions, and to vote when the time comes, click to heresto­home­towns.ca

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Sure, it may not be the Wish Book.

But the Tire’s fall/win­ter WOW cat­a­logue fi­nally has made it through Canada Post’s ro­tat­ing strikes and into the com­mu­nity mail­box down the street. (Don’t get me started on those things!)

A mail­ing for Swiss Chalet’s Fes­tive Spe­cial also has ar­rived.

Though Christ­mas has been creep­ing in since early fall, the end of Hal­loween has made full room for the hol­i­days on the shelves of the $ Store.

St. Thomas Op­ti­mist Santa Claus Pa­rade is Nov. 17. Theme this year for the night­time pro­ces­sion, The Rail­way City: Clear the Tracks — Here comes Santa!

So, I sup­pose an­other sea­son is truly upon us. And I’m not com­plain­ing!

All the same, I’m wear­ing my poppy thru Sun­day.

Says the Le­gion about Re­mem­brance:

“Most im­por­tantly, take a mo­ment now and then to re­flect on the free­doms and peace in your life, and to re­mem­ber the men and women who served and sac­ri­ficed for all we have to­day.”

I think there’ll be more than enough time to start think­ing of the other stuff start­ing Mon­day.

ERIC BUN­NELL/FOR THE TIMES-JOUR­NAL

Christ­mas Care vol­un­teer Tim Giles as­sem­bles boxes for hol­i­day ham­pers to be packed and de­liv­ered this year in St. Thomas and cen­tral El­gin. The agency opened its doors Mon­day at the for­mer Zeller's, El­gin Cen­tre.

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