Windsor’s annual Sleighing Hunger Charity Concert by the S’Aints band is now a welcome and anticipated fabric of the local Christmas season. But it is more than a night of incredible music at Caesar Windsor’s Colosseum auditorium. It is a means to amplify the goods of the region’s food banks.
This year the combination of ticket sales for the concert and the release of a CD (Strike Hunger) of seasonal music has raised a record $75,267. S’Aints band member, and famed internationally acclaimed rock group Tea Party drummer Jeff Burrows, tells Eyes on Windsor, this year’s proceeds are a record, reaching 14% more than last year’s $66,000. But what it all means is particularly significant.
June Muir, President, Windsor Essex Food Bank Association, stressed just how much so at a pre-noon press conference at the Unemployed Help Centre. There reporters and dignitaries were gathered to hear the year’s results. She talked of the key ingredients not found on most food bank shelves and which will be there because of the S’aints.
Mary Riley, Caesars Windsor Vice President of Marketing mentioned how the contribution from the event, which is held in collaboration with St. Clair College and Caesars Windsor Cares, is highly valuable as a support to the community.
The need is considerable. The numbers from Muir showed food banks in Windsor and Essex County supplied 137,000 individuals this year. Of that number, 46,000 were children, a reality of that number is child poverty in the region is the highest in Canada.
In most cases, she added, those who rely on food banks are “people like you and I who have just fallen on bad times.”
Most of the donated money from the concert and CD sales will fund the purchase of fresh meat, mostly hamburger, and fresh vegetables to augment canned goods. Brenda LeClair, Executive Director of Outreach for Hunger, made it known that fresh food items “are not normally found on the shelves of the local food banks.”
Burrows called the annual event a unique partnership drawing on the resources of Caesars Windsor and St. Clair College. Unfortunately, he noted, “It would be a pleasure if these types of needs wound end.”
The concert program originated in 2013 and over the past five years have accumulated over $200,000 in donations to local food banks while creating, what Patti France, President, St. Clair College, described as “an extremely popular Christmas tradition.”
As the press conference was underway, at the back of the room in the Unemployed Help Centre/WEFA was conducting its annual turkey giveaway. Volunteer, and FCA retiree, Richard Haddock tells Eyes on Windsor the volunteers will hand out some 150 turkeys along with a bag of groceries and vegetables. It is Haddock’s first time helping out and putting his retirement to good use.
The S’Aints will perform Friday night at the Caesars Windsor Colosseum beginning at 8pm. Band members are lead vocalist Jody Raffoul; drummer Burrows, Wes Buckley, Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe, David Cyrenne, Kelly Authier, Marty Bak, Liz Robinson and Stephanie Baker.
Article by Robert Tuomi
For over a decade, Robert has covered local news and community events. Initially as a contributor to CBC Radio’s local morning show and then as the long-time producer and host of CJAM’s The Rest of the News and as a journalist at the Windsor Square. A graduate of the Nikon School of Photography he enjoys illustrating his reports with what he sees through his camera’s lens.