It wasn't only the Salvation Food Bank that benefited from some charitable donations courtesy of the Collingwood Blues hockey team in Portage. The Royal Canadian Legion Branch 65 received some upgrades while the team was using its hall for meals during the Centennial Cup tournament.
Team owner David Steele says they came to the Legion to rent the building.
"Usually, we deal very well with the Legion in Collingwood. So, I thought of that as the first thing for our home base, so we can prepare meals for all the players and family," explains Steele. "We're doing about three meals a day at 60 people per meal. It's pretty high volume. We brought our own chef. Nutrafarms is our main sponsor and they also supplied a great deal of product."
Steele explains they arrived at the Legion and he understands that Legions are suffering financially across Canada since the pandemic. He notes the organization's clientele has decreased dramatically.
"It's been challenging because these organizations run on donations, primarily, and/or volunteers," adds Steele. "It's not really their job or responsibility to make sure that things are fiscally responsible, but yet it falls upon them. So, when we got into the Legion and we saw that it was in need. We had opportunities to contact some local electricians. We got a lot of the older, a little bit more scary, lights taken down, and new ones put up in the service area of the hall."
He says they also did some plumbing work and refinished the floors.
"We're trying to leave it better than we found it, just like we do with every hockey dressing room we go into, right?" Notes Steele. "We clean it up nice and neat, leave it proper, and have them, hopefully, be able to take advantage of what we did to help them become more sustainable in their future."
Steele says he doesn't charge for his time, but says it was enough to say that it was a good-sized donation.
Blues chef Glen Russell prepares their meals at the Legion, and says this is his first trip with the team in attending a tournament like the Centennial Cup. He notes the team did a fantastic job finding a location like Legion Branch 65.
"The Legion was nice enough to let us use the facilities and it's been great here," says Russell. "There's lots of room for the guys. A really good family environment and lots of room for me to cook and make sure we're keeping them well fed."
Russell adds he was preparing all kinds of great food.
"We've done salmon. We've done steaks. We've done steak sandwiches, bacon, eggs, and sausage for breakfast. We did tacos last night. We did a ham dinner on Sunday for Mother's Day -- a nice roast dinner. So we're doing our best to keep the variety going, too, so it doesn't get too stale."
He notes they've been feeding 35 to 40 team players, and when the parents arrived, they're now pushing 70 to 80 including the staff.
"The town of Portage has been amazing; very welcoming for us, and we've had a great experience here, so far. It's just been a blast. Thank you, guys."