AMHERST – Like the coming of spring, canvassers from the Amherst chapter of the Kidney Foundation of Canada will be out for their annual March Drive once February bids its annual farewell.
The fundraiser is huge for the chapter, which raises money for research into kidney disease, and support for local patients in need.
“It’s one of our most important fundraisers,” said Sharon Gould, member of the organizing committee. “Other chapters don’t necessarily do it in the month of March, but the people of Amherst and surrounding communities have been just marvelous supporters for the years we have been at it.”
The Amherst chapter covers not just the town of Amherst, but also half of the county – a huge swath of land stretching diagonally from Pugwash to Apple River.
About eight or nine captains are responsible for particular areas of collection, while individual calls are made to other areas without captains. Committee member Greg Wilson is responsible for canvassing businesses, professionals and organizations, many of which receive a letter in February and respond with a cheque by the time March rolls around.
It’s a system that has worked for the foundation for decades – Gould began in the winter of 1982. Linda Dobson has close to 30 years in, while Rodney Long has been doing it for about 15. All have their own stories of how they were touched by kidney disease. Some have had their own transplant surgeries, some have family members on dialysis, and some, like Gould, have donated kidneys.
The kidney foundation continues to help patients in Cumberland County everyday. If someone ends up in renal failure and is determined by a social worker to be in financial need, the foundation provides assistance for gas and lodging. A large binder of helpful information, with everything from definitions of medical terms to tips on income tax deductions, is also provided by the foundation to patients.
Up until last year, when the federal government kicked in with increased funding, the foundation was also the largest contributor to research into kidney disease.
Canvassing locally has not gotten easier over the years, however, as many dedicated volunteers have come and gone.
“We’ve had a lot of organizers – people who retired and then took up canvassing - that we’ve lost through the years, but we still manage to recruit a pretty good group,” said Gould. “The rewarding thing, I find, is when you knock on the door sometimes and people say they were wondering if we’d be around pretty soon.”
Those interested in volunteering with the Amherst chapter of the kidney foundation can contact Sharon Gould at 902-667-3923.