By Tracey Arial
This could have been the final year in Manna Food Bank’s existence. The organization that has been feeding Verdun citizens since 1985 lost three major funders earlier this year.
“When I saw that our coffers were short $10,000, I panicked,” said longtime volunteer, purchaser and director Joseph Quinn. “I started to send letters out to make up the $10,000 for 2014.”
Manna already operates on a shoestring budget. The organization provides food to 5,000 Verdun residents every year. Residents who are on welfare, senior citizens on fixed pensions and others in need have the right to pick up food once a month but the organization opens every Wednesday and Friday so that pickups can be staggered. The Dawson Centre in Verdun provides space without charging rent. Montreal Harvest donates some of the food distributed. Dagwood’s provides bread every week, and other suppliers donate other goods. Nineteen volunteers put in three or four hours a week to ensure the organization runs smoothly. Quinn, who has donated his time regularly to Manna since retiring from Verdun’s fire department in December 1997, spends about 35-40 hours a month handling purchasing, pickups and other administrative details. He also donates his gas and car usage to the organization.
Fundraising has to cover other operating costs, including meats, eggs and other staples for the 1,500 families the organization supports, liability insurance, administration materials and marketing.
When he saw the shortfall in funds, Quinn sent letters to everyone he could think of to donate. So far, he’s managed to raise $8,500.
“Verdun stepped out into the brink for some of it and generous citizens donated the rest,” he said.
To celebrate the borough’s involvement, Quinn invited Mayor Jean-Francois Parenteau and borough Councillor Marie-Eve Brunet to celebrate with a tour of their facilities. Brian McBrien, who spends many hours volunteering for Manna, joined them.
Manna Food Bank still needs another $1,500 to cover its 2014 budget. Anyone who wants to donate funds can send a cheque to Manna Verdun Bank, 666 Woodland, Verdun, Quebec H4H-1V8. Manna is a charitable non-profit organization, so tax receipts are available for donations higher than $20.
They also accept non-perishable foods any time.
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