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Local dinner club donates to food bank

AMHERST – A local dinner club has made a significant donation to the food bank.

A cheque for $6,000 was presented to the Amherst Food Assistance Network Association this week based on the overwhelming success of the sold-out cookbook, Dinner with Friends. The book was a 20th-anniversary fundraising project of a local dinner club, with all proceeds going to the food bank. Shown here, dinner club members Todd Levy, Donald and Pauline Furlong and Cindy McGuire present the cheque to association board members Heather Wilkes and Sarah MacMaster (holding her daughter, Caroline). Missing from the photo are dinner club members David and Debbie Kogon and Todd LeBlanc and his wife Carole.

A cheque for $6,000 was given to the Amherst Food Assistance Network Association after the club’s 20th anniversary cookbook project, Dinner with Friends, sold out in rapid order after just two weeks.

“When we first heard about this, we were just delighted that a group of friends would do this out of the goodness of their hearts,” says Heather Wilkes, a member of the board of directors of Amherst Food Assistance Network Association and a volunteer for Trinity-St. Stephens United Church. “It’s a beautiful book and it just shows a lot of care from this group.”

Launched just in time for the Christmas season of giving, the 142-page book was created by Donald and Pauline Furlong, Dr. David and Debbie Kogon, Todd Levy and Cindy McGuire and Todd Leblanc and his wife Carole.

Illustrated by Gil Colicutt with a watercolour cover and black and white sketches throughout, it features more than 100 recipes organized by seasons and menus that take the guesswork out of pairing courses. 

The cookbook proved extremely popular from the outset and the group is thankful to its community partners — Dayle’s department store, Mansour’s Menswear and Manasseh Foods — for their support in selling the book. 

It is also thankful to everyone in the community who responded to the project and made a purchase or, in many cases, several purchases.

“The response was overwhelming and so gratifying,” said Donald Furlong. “Amherst has always been known as a giving community and we certainly experienced that with this project, which supports a cause that is close to our hearts and helps those of all ages, especially our youngest citizens.”

The donation is timely and will be used in the ongoing work of the food bank relied upon by some 400 people each month, one third of whom are children. Operated by five area churches —- Trinity St. Stephens United, First Baptist, Wesleyan, Holy Family and Christ Church —- it is a true community effort, with approximately 100 church and community volunteers helping out.

Most likely, says Wilkes, it will be used to purchase fresh items such as eggs and milk, along with meat. While donations from the community and Feed Nova Scotia make up the bulk of the food being distributed, other items are bought on an as-needed basis.

“The timing is wonderful,” says the board member, “because winter brings on additional expenses for everyone including those who come to the food bank. This will certainly help ease the burden.”

Anyone wishing to make a donation to the food bank may do so through Amherst Food Assistance Network Association at  PO Box 45, Amherst, NS, B4H 3Y6 or by dropping off food items (there is a particular need now for canned meat and fish, pasta sauce, peanut butter, cereal and juice) at 5 King Street on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons between 1:30 pm and 4 pm.

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