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Thor Motors helps rev up Christmas spirit for food bank (7 photos)

'It's such a fun Christmas thing to do,' says Orillia Vocal Ensemble manager; Event raised $7,200 for The Sharing Place this year

It’s not often one considers the acoustics when entering a car dealership.

But Saturday’s food bank fund-raiser at Thor Motors provided ample evidence that its high-ceilinged showroom is more than up to the task.

The Orillia business’s large atrium again provided the perfect locale for an afternoon of Yuletide favourites and Christmas cheer while raising $7,200 for the Sharing Place Food Centre.

“Financial donations are very important at this time of year,” Sharing Place executive director Chris Peacock said, noting donors also still have time to get a tax receipt for the current tax year.

“Sixty per cent of our revenue comes in during the holiday season.”

Featuring performances by the Orillia Vocal Ensemble and the Hummin’ and Strummin’ Ukulele kids from the Orillia Music Centre, the afternoon proved a delight to the nearly 300 area residents who ventured inside.

The Sharing Place provides emergency access to healthy food and food skills programming to over 1,500 food insecure people per month.

Peacock said cash donations allow the food bank to buy food on a just-in-time basis at wholesale prices, support its programs and also provide fuel for its delivery truck that regularly picks up surplus vegetables and meat from local grocery stores.

“We can buy what we need, when we need it,” Peacock said, noting volunteer drivers collect many pounds of surplus food on a monthly basis with the truck.

“We’re diverting food waste while also getting people healthy, good food that costs a lot of money. If people eat better, they think better and sleep better,” said Peacock.

Long-time ensemble conductor Roy Menagh, who is stepping down from the role next year, joked that if the capacity crowd didn’t sing along to Joy To The World he would stop the song and single them out.

“Everyone should know this,” said Menagh, who happily led the well-known Christmas carol as everyone sung along.

There was even a visit from the Jolly Old Elf himself as Santa Claus dropped by from the North Pole to celebrate the Yuletide season.

This year's $7,200 tops last year's $6,200 raised for The Sharing Place.

Thor dealer-principal Bob Brown said the annual offering raises money for an important cause while getting people into the holiday spirit and giving the kids in the ukulele troupe an opportunity to perform.

“This is about giving back to the community,” Brown said. “This is a gift for us, too, because I love singing Christmas carols.”

Orillia Vocal Ensemble manager Carol Benedetti said the choir that counts about 60 members within its ranks always enjoys performing, especially during the holiday season.

“This is our sixth year performing here,” Benedetti said, adding the event has raised about $30,000 in total since its inception.

“It’s such a fun Christmas thing to do. This is also Roy’s last Christmas event with the Orillia Vocal Ensemble.”

Benedetti said the board is looking into a replacement for the organization’s founder, but doesn’t have anything to announce at this time.

Andrew Philips

About the Author: Andrew Philips

Community Editor Andrew Philips is a multiple award-winning journalist whose writing has appeared in some of the country’s most respected news outlets. Originally from Midland, Philips returned to the area from Québec City a decade ago
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