ALGOMA — While only a handful attended a recent Bruce Mines Sno Glyders Snowmobile Club, charity garage sale, the online response was, “incredible,” said group president Chris McMillan and his wife, Leah Anne.
While many traditional fundraising venues for local charities are closed this year, mmany report they continue to have on going expenses.
“We’ve had to get creative this year,” said Leah Anne.
The club hosted a “safe” garage sale with local baking and donated items Oct. 17. The plan was to allow only two people into the club house at a time. With few responding, it wasn’t hard to maintain public health COVID-19 guidelines. However, in the first couple hours, $1,000 worth of donated items sold online.
“We had some big-ticket items that went fast,” said Leah Anne.
That’s good, considering the group’s car show can raise $800, its Christmas decoration sale another $700 and the annual craft sale in November always does well, she added.
“All of these had to be cancelled,” Leah Anne said, adding the clubhouse costs $2,300 annually for routine expenses.
And we have trail maintenance expenses,” she said.
Maggie Willis, Bruce Station Horticultural Society, bills her group as “neither a charity nor a non-profit, exactly.”
The society is funded by the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, “so we must follow their guidelines.”
To receive such provincial dollars, horticultural societies meet strict requirements that include specific volunteer hours, fundraising and spending.
“We can’t run plant sales this year,” Willis said. “We can’t sell memberships. We can’t do any horticultural promotion events … those are our spending. We have not been able to meet the expectations of being a horticultural society. We still have insurance and liability expenses. However we were just notified, we can use last year’s data for this year’s report.”
The society was able to maintain and continue community plantings, beautification and pollinator protection programs. “We have individual gardeners maintaining each garden,” Willis said. “This program still worked. We had perennials stored by members and individuals did the planting and watering.”
Willis said she is concerned about other charities.
Her group fundraises annually for Alzheimer Society and for area food bank at its Christmas craft event.
“We can’t do that this year,” Willis said. “It is a real challenge to continue to support them. They still have needs to meet.”
Connie Bennett, a volunteer with the Bruce Mines food bank, said the charity is “doing well.”
It’s been harder, but the volunteers are getting it done,” she said.
Bennett said she is not exactly certain as to why demand is up.
“We never ask,” she said. “We are there to supply need, not ask questions. Food prices are way up. Many things are not available. That must be affecting a lot of people.
Harvest Algoma, a hub for food and food preparation donations, has been “so good,” Bennett said, delivering every second week.
“People have been good,” she added. “People know we have great need. So many are out of work or laid off and many only work part-time. We have a good group of volunteers.”
A new challenge, due to the pandemic, is the need to package items. Normally, food is placed in bins and attendees are allowed to choose what they need.
“This year, everyone is receiving the same package and the volunteers carry the packages outside,” Bennett said. “It is a lot more work for volunteers.”
Bennett also volunteers for the Bruce Mines Historical Society, which received grants this year to employ students.
“We had to change their job description, but they were able to work alone all season on an inventory, and digitalization program,” she said. “It is a really extensive program with cross referencing.”
The museum was closed all season.
“Many of our guests are American,” Bennett said. “We could do no fundraising. We just couldn’t open and receive any admission fees.”
Like other non-profit groups, the historical society continues to have expenses.
“Our windows are leaking as is the tower,” Bennett said. “It is not good for the artifacts. They will all be put in storage for the winter. We have major capital projects that must be done but we are not allowed to apply for funding for capital projects this year.”
The group expects to have an archival room open year round to the public at Mariner’s Cove, on the west end of Bruce Mines.
“We had a productive summer regardless of COVID,” Bennett said. “We didn’t just sit around and self-isolate. Our volunteers wrapped our books in muslin and sewed them up.”
A volunteer from the Sault Ste. Marie Museum assisted.
“We hope to continue working at the cove all winter,” Bennett said.