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United Way BBQ raises money for community causes

Organizers expressed optimism that this year's event could surpass $15,000

THUNDER BAY — Several community groups came together to help raise money so they can continue to serve the community.

The United Way hosted their annual barbecue on Wednesday, fending off cool temperatures and rain at the Regional Food Distribution Association on Syndicate Avenue. 

Albert Brule, CEO at Thunder Bay United Way, says it's the one day a year where he gets to wear his hot dog bucket hat, but most importantly, the day is meant to raise awareness for several community organizations and to fundraise for their services. The United Way of Thunder Bay, the Regional Food Distribution Association, Shelter House, Dew Drop Inn and the Thunder Bay Indigenous Friendship Centre banded together and have organized this day for the last three months in hopes of it being a successful fundraiser. 

"It's always a challenge to fundraise, but we are humbled," Brule said, adding that the community has come together to support them and their cause, and he noticed this year the number of pre-orders has tripled in years past. 

While there is no specific funding goal, in previous years' events, $10,000 to $15,000 has been raised. Brule said he hopes to surpass the $15,000-mark this year. 

In preparation for the barbecue, it was decided early on that, rain or shine, the event would proceed and with that came the preparation of hundreds of hot dogs, hamburgers and bison burgers. 

RFDA food services manager Tanner Harris said that around 2 p.m., they were almost sold out of bison burgers, and they needed to go pick up more from their local farmer.

Hundreds of hot dogs and hamburgers were flying off the grills, and staff prepared over 300 pounds of potatoes from B&B Potato Farm — and they were needing to do more still.

"It's been bigger than last year, and we kind of planned for more food and more people, but not to this extent," Harris said. 

It was the courtesy of the food providers that donated the goods, as well as businesses stepping forward to sponsor the day's event. 

Tanner also noted that while the community barbecue is for a select group of community services, others came by to show their support. 

"It just really shows that, you know, our organizations can come together, and I, I even see other organizations coming here. I can see somebody from March of Dimes, I saw somebody from Evergreen, So it really is nice to see other organizations," Harris said, also noting that officers with the Thunder Bay Police Service and Ontario Provincial Police stopped by to indulge in their support of the community organizations.

For those looking to contribute, there are tickets to the CommUNITY BBQ 50/50 Raffle, which at the time of publishing had a winning pot amount of $5,000. The draw is set for Thursday. 

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