Coldest Month… Warmest feelings.

Here we are in February: the coldest month, still in lockdown and vaccines, for most, still months away. Not a lot to be happy about. But one thing we can feel good about is giving to local groups that need help, especially this time of year.

The VOS’s Community Centre Stage fund has been active over the past few months donating funds we would have used for theatre rental deposits to charities in Northumberland. In December, it was Cornerstone Family Violence Prevention Centre.

Cornerstone is helping to break the cycle of family violence by providing immediate shelter, counselling and prevention services throughout Northumberland County. They run a 17 bed shelter, a 24 hour support line, and a resource centre to women and children who have experienced family violence to help them move out of danger and into a violence free future. The strength and support of the community has enabled Cornerstone to deliver first class services to Northumberland County for more than 35 years, serving more than 2100 women, children and youth last year alone.

As we moved into the new year, the new Northumberland Hospice Care Centre, Ed’s House, was the recipient.

Led by Community Care Northumberland, Ed’s House is a hospice hub in Hamilton Township, that offers resident care, caregiver support, health system navigation, palliative support and grief and bereavement support. it features six private residence suites that are now operational and four others that will be finished and open when funding is available.

February is here and the coldest nights remind us that Port Hope’s annual walk, known as Coldest Night of the Year, hosted by Green Wood Coalition is coming up February 20th. Coldest Night of the Year raises money for charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt and hunger.

This year is a little different. It’s a self-organized micro-walk, where you gather only in your covid-safe bubble or on your own and walk 2 to 5 km, then share your success, and your pledges, online.

Green Wood Coalition is a street-level, charitable organization that uses a community model of caring to walk alongside people living with poverty, mental illness, substance dependency and other disability in Northumberland County.

http://www.greenwoodcoalition.com/

Check out these worthwhile groups, get involved, and donate if you are able. In these dreary months of winter, we all need something to make us feel a bit better.

Putting the Kids Centre Stage in December

VOS THEATRE’s December contribution was a lot of fun to source. We chose the Salvation Army Toy Drive as our Community cause this month because joy on the face of a child is a gift to us all (and we wanted to test out all the cool new fun things on the shelves).

VOS board member Marlena Sculthorpe with Walker, Ewan and Elliot Sculthorpe.

Board Member Marlena Sculthorpe and her boys presented over $500 in toys to Mark Chard, a firefighter in Port Hope who helps collect and deliver toys to the Salvation Army each year.

“The Port Hope Firefighters were the original organizers of the Santa Claus parade. Years ago at the end of the parade they gave each child a loot bag. 
A few years ago we were doing fundraising and I suggested sponsoring a couple families for Christmas. Then I thought why not do a toy drive to help more. I noticed the drop boxes that used to be at some businesses were gone. So we started our collection locations.”

Mark Chard

Mark and the Port Hope Firefighters set up drop off locations for toys each year to make donating effortless. Then Mark delivers all donations to the Salvation Army to add to their annual toy drive. Mark and his family have a box on their porch at his home, 76 Ward St, in Port Hope. Then there’s Dreamer’s Cafe on Walton St., Evolution Hair Salon on Ontario St. in Port Hope and of course the Port Hope Firehall is accepting donations.

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Mark Chard dropping off one of many truckloads of donations

Mark regularly checks the locations and delivers to the Salvation Army for distribution.

“I just like the thought that families will have a nicer Christmas thanks to the generosity of others.” We do too, Mark.

There’s still time to donate to the Toy Drive and if you are wanting to stay clear of the shopping part, cheques are gladly accepted.

Putting the community centre stage with Fare Share Food Bank

Virtual meetings, masks everywhere, no hugs or handshakes, social distancing: we’ve made a lot of adjustments to our lifestyle this year, but when, on the news, the Prime Minister stood and pleaded with us to stay home at Christmas, the whole thing took another turn. Now we are messing with tradition. No noisy dinners with extended family, no festive drinks with friends or neighbors, no community or church get-togethers. Things we often take for granted just can’t happen this year.

When we first announced the VOS’s Community Centre Stage fund; a fund to use money we had already committed to theatre venue rental to instead be given to charities, groups, or individuals who need help now more than ever, we received an email from Merle Gingrich wanting to donate $300 to the fund, ($10 for every year the VOS has been operating) suggesting the money would be given to food banks. An amazingly generous offer that allows us to extend the fund further into the new year. While the food banks always need donations, this time of year, and especially this year the Northumberland Fare Share Food Bank needs it more than ever.

So for this month’s Community Centre Stage donation, we are donating $300 to Fare Share Food Bank’s Holiday Turkey dinner drive. We donated through Holton Flowers in Port Hope but there are many donation locations. Every $20 donation gives a family in need a full turkey dinner for the holidays.

Northumberland Fare Share Food Bank is dedicated to serving Cobourg and Port Hope, by collecting and distributing food and other necessities to individuals and families in need in our community. 2,200 individuals are helped by the Food Bank each year, distributing 350,000 pounds of food.

If you have a little extra this year, you can donate food or money to Northumberland Fare Share. Visit www.fareshare.ca for info or look for the Holiday Turkey Drive sign in Cobourg and Port Hope stores.

This weekend almost every year….

As I watched the snow coming down this yesterday I thought about what VOS Theatre volunteers are normally doing over Easter weekend almost every year. We are normally moving a set in or working a tech weekend. We’re putting the finishing touches on costuming or holding a sitzprobe with our fabulous musicians. We are normally juggling time with family and VOS family but almost always we’re building a set.

We’ve loaded in with sunshine and with freezing rain and snow – because it’s April! We’ve even moved a car up those historic steps at Vic Hall.

So this weekend enjoy the family you live with and remember the family you create theatre with is only a phone call away. There may not be techie cake but at least there’s time to watch a couple VOS videos and smile.

This one, in particular makes me smile! This video was put together for our 25 anniversary. We’ll do a bigger and better one with more recent shows when we meet for our 30th Celebration. Take a look back…….

We are sending this blog to our 30th Gala mailing list rather than just the membership. We may not be celebrating in person next week but we still wanted to say thank you to our volunteers. We think it’s worth remembering from a physical distance that the past 30 years have been a hell of a ride.

If you are so inclined upload your favourite VOS photos to our Facebook page.

Eat well. Stay well and get out in the sunshine. No tap dancing, hauling of sets and costumes or late night rehearsals this weekend!