Members of CUPE 543 have packed up 1,200 hampers containing everything needed for a complete Thanksgiving dinner, as part of their seventh annual ‘Operation Giveback,’ in partnership with the Windsor-Essex Food Bank Association. The dinner hampers will be distributed to families in the Windsor area on Thursday, October 8.

The Thanksgiving hampers will contain a turkey (for families) or a chicken (for single residents), reusable grocery and insulated thermos bags, along with carrots, potatoes, onions, stuffing, apples, cookies, and a bag of candy for families with children. The distribution point will be the Unemployed Help Centre (6955 Cantelon Drive, Windsor, ON), starting at 12 noon and running until 3 p.m., on Thursday.

The hampers will be delivered through a series of community agencies this year. These agencies include Adventist Community Church, The Downtown Mission, Drouillard Place, Immaculate Heart Parish, Parkwood Gospel Church, The Salvation Army, The Welcome Centre, Windsor Homes Coalition, Windsor Lifeline Outreach, and the Unemployed Help Centre.

“Our members know that Thanksgiving is an important holiday for many families, and that a good meal is at the heart of this celebration. We don’t want to let the many hardships people are suffering as a result of COVID-19 prevent them from having a healthy, warming holiday meal this year,” said David Petten, President of CUPE 543. “Even before the pandemic, up to 30% of Windsor-area children were living in poverty. This is not acceptable. While charity is never going to close the gap in services and much needed social assistance, our members want to do their part on this holiday weekend. And that is why we doubled from last year the number of meals we are donating.”

“We’d like to thank the Food Bank Association, and the community partners who donated some key components for our hampers,” said Petten. “In particular, we thank Pier C Farms in Leamington, which donated the onions and carrots, and Wrightland Farms and E & B Medel Orchards, who donated the apples. We support buying local produce, and we are grateful for their support of us. We’d also like to thank the Real Canadian Superstore on Dougall Avenue in Windsor. They have been a true partner in this effort.”

CUPE 543 represents more than 1,600 dedicated public service workers in Windsor-Essex, including the City of Windsor inside workers, Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, ABC Day Nursery of Windsor, Windsor-Essex Community Housing Corporation, Synagro, Seasons Retirement Communities in Amherstburg, and Great Beginnings Child Centered Co-operative.