Lakeview couple handing over the reigns to community food drive after 25 years

LAKEVIEW: A couple from Lakeview are passing on the community’s food drive torch onto a new family, 25 years after starting it as a way to honour a family member that had passed away.

In 1994, Raymond and Joanne Kelly-Dwinell began a community food drive in honour of Joanne’s sister Ruth Ann who passed away because of cancer. In that time frame it has helped out many in the communities of Lakeview, Windsor Junction, Waverley, Fall River, and Wellington through the Lions Christmas Express. In that time, Joanne’s mom also died of cancer, so it became a food drive in memory of both women.

The food drive sees children in the community, accompanied by one of the adults, go door-to-door seeking food donations for the Christmas Express. It would then be brought to the Dwinell’s home. It would be there that volunteers with the Christmas Express would pick it up.

What does it mean to the couple to have done the food drive for 25 years?

“It means we did our part to honour Ruth Ann,” said Raymond.

The Dwinell’s are presented a plaque from MLA Bill Horne and the province during the short celebration at Halifax Search and Rescue’s building in Lakeview. (Healey photo)

Ruth Ann was described as a very generous soul who was the nicest person in the world, said Raymond.

“She would do anything to help anybody,” he said.

Joanne was all smiles seeing past children who are now adults continuing to help out.

“It’s really nice to see the kids that were small and helping out, are now big and they are part of the community and carrying it on,” she said. “It’s so wonderful to see.”

The two said they didn’t do the food drive for any accolades, but to help out.

“I’m surprised this happened today because I don’t like being the center of attention,” she said. “We just did it in her honour.”

“This is more than I ever expected, this type of recognition. We’re not used to it,” added Joanne.

The couple were recognized with certificate of appreciations from Darrell Samson, read by Geoff Reagan on Samson’s behalf; Bill Horne MLA; HRM Mayor Mike Savage; the Lakeview Homeowners Association; and Lions Christmas Express. Horne and Samson also were making donations in honour of the food drive to the Christmas Express.

Halifax West MP Geoff Regan was on hand at the celebration and spoke briefly. He presented the Dwinell’s with gifts from PM Justin Trudeau; a certificate recognizing their accomplishment also from Trudeau; and a certificate from MP Darrell Samson, who was away and could not attend. (Healey photo)

Stephanie Dube, with the Lions Christmas Express, said what the two have done over the past two-plus decades was amazing.

“This year, the donations from the Lakeview community, like other years, is just phenomenal,” said Dube. “I think they know how much their support and doing the food drive means.”

The Lakeview food drive torch has been passed on to Miguel and Roxanne Salguerio.