CONSTANCE BAY – For American football fans, American Thanksgiving Thursday is a pretty good day. Traditionally in Canada, it is a day you have to play hooky from work if you want to attend.
For Constance Bay, its a seven-year-long fundraiser for the West Carleton Food Access Centre (WCFAC).
Constance Bay’s Steve Billie and Naomi Inglis, with help from friends Bill Rossett, and the Point Dining Lounge owners Rick and Mary Charlebois and more, have been organizing the event for as long as its existed.
Billie and Inglis are both NFL fans. They annually enjoy the unique event Thanksgiving football has become. It’s the one weekday a year when the NFL hosts three football games for 12 hours of gridiron broadcasting (although this year, the third scheduled game was cancelled at the last minute due to a COVID-19 outbreak within the two teams’ players scheduled to play).
The football kicks off at 12:30 p.m. and a free turkey dinner is served at roughly 5:30 p.m. (a donation to the WCFAC is what’s requested).
“My buddy Chuka (we have no idea how to spell this) and I started this with the support of Mary and Rick – they donate a day of profits,” Billie told West Carleton Online just as the first half of the Detroit-Houston game ended and kitchen work was set to begin. “We started with one turkey and one ham.”
Billie says on average they usually cook about 40 dinners and raise $1,000 for the WCFAC. Billie says when he first moved to Constance Bay, it was more of a NASCAR community. But he brought his love of the NFL and says his fundraiser is starting to turn the community towards football.
“It’s really taken off,” Billie said.
The volunteer runs three fundraisers for the WCFAC each year. He hosts a Christmas Dinner and does a Superbowl Chili Cook-Off as well as the American Thanksgiving event. Billie says its not clear yet if he can host the chili cook-off this year with constantly changing COVID-19 regulations but is “hopeful,” as he points out someone has to knock off five-year defending champion Patricia Burton.
Billie says the Thanksgiving fundraiser usually raises more than $1,000 for the WCFAC, during a time the food bank is at its busiest raising money for its Christmas Basket and Angel Tree programs.
By 6:30 p.m. the crew was sold out of turkeys and had served 55 dinners. More than $1,000 was raised for the WCFAC bringing the total donations raised in seven years to almost $8,000.