A giving community

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The Big Give was a big hit.


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Scores of local residents scoured church basements and sidewalk stalls Saturday for children’s items, clothing and household materials – all free – courtesy of six area churches.

Along the way, they were also invited for breakfast and lunch, a haircut and a cleaning of their car’s interior as part of the “extravagant giving” offered in the third local edition of an event founded five years ago in Ottawa.

Racks of clothes, fresh-baked items and children’s toys and books were laid out for grateful visitors at St. Paul’s Anglican Church on Pine Street.

“Everybody helping everybody is a good thing. Stop by and help yourself,” said St. Paul’s parishioner and volunteer Connie Burns.

Burns said the event helps people who “can’t afford to buy these things” and donors who are downsizing their personal belongings.

“People enjoy the chance to sort out their stuff and getting rid of some things by putting them back into circulation. I think it’s a fantastic opportunity,” added Burns.

A woman with three children in tow was thrilled with the selection of items geared for youngsters.

“We’re getting books, toys and munchies,” said the woman, who identified herself only as Shannon.

One block to the west, visitors to First Baptist Church could get a haircut and, if unable to do so themselves, have their car interior cleaned in addition to picking up household furnishings, sandwiches and other items.

“There’s lots of demand for haircuts and car-cleaning,” said volunteer Debra Lee Wilderspin.


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Wilderspin said donations for the event were abundant, including carvings from the St. Lawrence Woodcarvers Association.

“We’ve had such generosity,” she added.

That included home furnishings from Harold and Barb Healey who have been downsizing for a move from their city home to the nearby Wall Street Village.

“We’ve been in our home for 50 years and we have lots of stuff to get rid of,” said Harold Healey.

Brockville’s north end was also well-served by The Big Give with Bethel Christian Reformed Church and Highway Pentecostal Church.

At the former site, a free breakfast was served with eggs donated from Burnbrae Farms, and at the latter church, lunch was available.

“We’re participating just to bless the community. Show people we care,” said Pastor Jack Van de Hoef.

Van de Hoef said churches coordinated activities to serve the most people by arranging, for instance, to provide separate meals at separate times.

Volunteer Joanne Wiekamp said people have been generous, providing “a tremendous amount” of clothes, books and home furnishings that were gathering dust in closets and garages.

“It’s about being part of the community and giving back.”

It was easy to find people who agreed.

Jane Harper was looking around after breakfast at Bethel Church and found table lamps that will nicely fill a need for more light in her living room.

“I was looking for lamps and I get a matched pair. It’s a natural set,” she said, adding her appreciation for the volunteers and donors who support the effort.

Nearby, Dennis and Mary Lou Leeder were eager to find that special item and were grateful for the opportunity being provided by the churches.

“I think It’s a good idea,” he said.

Also participating were Brockvile’s First Presbyterian Church and Christ United Church in Lyn.

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