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Community benefit dinner in the works


In the continuing effort to help local families with medical costs, the Fort Frances Community Chest is busy organizing its fifth-annual benefit dinner, which will be held Feb. 16 at La Place Rendez-Vous.

“Things are moving along well so far,” said Georges Blanc, who is helping organize the dinner as both the co-owner of the Rendez-Vous and a member of the Knights of Columbus.

“The community has been very generous in donating items for live and silent auctions and for door prizes—we’ve got some very nice things,” he noted.

“And our suppliers have been great in getting us our food for the event,” he added. “All in all, it should once again be a very successful evening.”

Blanc said with the event still almost a month away, tickets sales have been brisk, with at least 175 of the available 275 sold so far.

Tickets, which are available at the Rendez-Vous and Cousineau Brokers, cost $25 each and are available in advance only. Reserved tables for 10 people are available upon request.

A social hour will start at 5:30 p.m., with dinner served at 6:30.

Blanc said the guest speaker this year will be local cancer survivor Todd Hamilton, with Larry Cousineau acting as emcee for the evening.

“The event is such a satisfying thing to work on,” said Cousineau, who, as a member of the local Ducks Unlimited chapter, always sees some very generous prizes get donated to the fundraiser.

“The funds go to such a worthwhile cause—people who can’t afford health care,” he added. “It really gets to people who might be slipping through the cracks.

“And it’s quietly distributed through the year without much publicity—some people are too proud to receive the help any other way,” he remarked.

Blanc noted since the benefit dinner is not being held to raise money for a specific family, as it did several years ago, there isn’t any specific guests of honour.

“It will follow along the same format as the last couple years,” he said. “Lots of door prizes—we hope to send a lot of people home with something—auction items, a guest speaker.

“And probably a few other announcements,” hinted Blanc.

Last year’s fundraiser brought in $16,100—about $1,100 more than in 2001. The live and silent auctions were responsible for about $9,000 of the total amount.

Blanc said he’s hoping the fundraising momentum from last year’s dinner, as well as the boon the “Community Chest” got from being the local Canada Safeway’s charity for 2002 and getting half the proceeds from the “Spirit of Christmas,” will carry through to make the event as successful as last year.

The event is a co-operative effort of the Rendez-Vous staff, the local Kiwanis and Lions clubs, and Knights of Columbus, and the “Spirit of Christmas” committee.

The purpose of the “Community Chest” is to provide financial aid to local families who may need help to cover medical costs, for which it receives requests on a regular basis.

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