By Kevin J. Sabo For the Advance
A Castor institution which has been responsible for raising tens of thousands of dollars for various charities in its nearly 30-year lifespan has become another casualty of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Castor and District Community Chest, a non-profit society, decided to close its doors after the pandemic made canvassing door-to-door untenable for the volunteers.
“Everybody is nervous to (canvas),” said society secretary Janet Davis.
“We won’t canvas next year, and we didn’t canvas (this) year, because we are folding. It was decided at the last meeting that nobody wants to canvas.”
The Castor and District Community Chest came together for the first time on Nov. 21st, 1991, with the expressed purpose of canvasing on behalf of 11 different charities that were canvassing in town during this time.
“It started because so many people were coming to the door,” said Davis.
“I was a canvasser back then, and we just followed each other around.”
The thinking behind the creation of the society was that one person could canvas for the various charities. Charities helped by the Castor & District Community Chest over the years include the Canadian Red Cross Society, the Canadian Cancer Society, Canadian Mental Health, the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Alberta Lung Association, the Kidney Foundation, the Canadian Diabetes Association, the Arthritis Society, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, and the Elks Purple Cross Fund.
“These eleven charities are going to miss us, because we wrote a cheque to each charity for between $3,000 and $5,000,” said Davis.
In an average year, the society raised between $20,000 and $30,000, which was split between the various charities, with very little held back for operational costs.
The Society would typically hold back one per cent of total funds raised to pay for the annual Society fees and other operational or advertising costs.
“We had lots of support,” said Davis.
“(The Charities) always sent a letter that the money stayed in Alberta.”
The Society didn’t just focus its collection efforts in Castor. Volunteers would canvas a geographic area between Halkirk and Fleet, as far north as the river and as far south as the County line.
“It’s a sad thing to see this close,” said Davis.
“I need to write a ‘Dear John’ letter to the charities.”
Residents of the Castor and district who would like to continue to donate to the various charities can contact Davis, or any of the other board members for the contact information of the various or check out the online donation options by checking out the various organization web sites.