Island charity sends 64,000 lbs of supplies for Ft. McMurray relief

Pastor Rodney Deforge, left, and Cornerstone Christian Charities yard manager Jim Dunn showcase just some of the skids of personal care products destined for Fort McMurray evacuees through donation by the charity.

Wiky Junior School raises $670 for cause

MANITOWANING—Pastor Rodney Deforge is known for his many good works on Manitoulin, supplying the community with great deals on everything from food to appliances at his Barney’s Bargain Barn, but many don’t realize that those good buys also fully support his Cornerstone Christian Charities arm, supplying food to food banks both locally and across the province and most recently, sending toiletries to those who were forced to flee fire devastated Fort McMurray.

Last week, the charity sent 10 skids, or about 16,000 pounds, to the shelters in Alberta housing those Fort McMurray evacuees. The skids were brought to Espanola and shipped through the Northern Ontario-based 705 Transport.

“We filled all the available space they had,” Mr. Deforge tells The Expositor in a Saturday afternoon interview at the bustling Bargain Barn in Assiginack. “We found out that they still had a big need for personal care, so decided to ship more.”

On Monday of this week, Manitoulin Transport, who graciously volunteered to ship the goods, picked up 26 skids, or 48,000 pounds, of toiletries. They will be hauling the load to a rail yard, where a railway company has donated the rest of the transport. When asked how the charity keeps such quantities, Mr. Deforge explains that he keeps it in stock for just such occasions, noting that they always go through the Salvation Army or Red Cross when it comes to handing the goods out.

“Ninety-five percent of the time we stay in-province, but this is such a national pride thing, so we decided to expand our borders and ship to Alberta,” Pastor Deforge explains.

The Cornerstone staff gets the skids organized, under the direction of yard manager Jim Dunn, who actually made the initial call to Red Cross with their generous offer.

Their generosity doesn’t stop at disaster. Each week, Cornerstone Christian Charities supplies 10,000 pounds of food to food banks across Ontario. They are currently in the process of arranging a shipment to communities around James Bay. “Because of the store, we can waive all the fees now,” Pastor Deforge says brightly.

Each week five transports arrive on Manitoulin, three of which are for the store with the other two dedicated to the charity. All of these goods are bought at auction.

The store allows him to make contact with people from all walks of life on Manitoulin, Pastor Deforge adds, some with need, and some without. A $5 lunch at the Bargain Barn, open Friday from noon to 6 pm and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm, brings a steady stream of area senior citizens in, making the lunch spot a regular social outing, a sight which pleases the pastor to no end. He says he hopes to one day see a full service restaurant open at his Manitowaning Lodge location (and where the store will be located come September), but for now his focus is on finding a more permanent home for the charity, preferably in Little Current, in part to draw a line between store and charity, “so people know what’s what.”

Currently, the food bank is located at 440 Clover Valley Road in Assiginack.

Wikwemikong Junior School staff and students also did their part to help fire-ravaged Fort McMurray by taking part in an inter-agency twoonie walk recently. The students helped to raise $670 for the cause.