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Grace Place street ministry gets a boost from Walmart

A $15,000 donation will go toward the purchase of new sleeping mats and a cooler
Staff, volunteers and dignitaries gathered at Grace Place on Monday for the presentation of a $15,000 cheque from Walmart Canada (Leigh Nunan, TBT News)

THUNDER BAY — A street ministry that provides multiple supports including shelter for disadvantaged members of the community has received a generous donation from Walmart Canada.

In an event at Grace Place on Simpson Street, Thunder Bay Walmart representatives presented a cheque for $15,000 on Monday.

"We're so excited," said Melody Macsemchuk, manager of Grace Place's Out of the Cold program. "This money will be going toward a new cooler. We also need to replace some of our sleeping mats. We tried to replace some of them earlier in the year but it is very costly. We're very happy to know we can have new mats after six years."

Macsemchuk explained that the mats are sanitized periodically, but can't be reused if they get ripped over time.

She said the facility's existing cooler is prone to breakdowns and must be replaced.

Yuchi Yang, the manager of Walmart's Memorial Avenue location, said the company receives nominations for its corporate donations from all across Canada, and he's pleased that Grace Place was chosen to receive one this year.

He said Walmart has also contributed smaller amounts for the purchase of socks and underwear for Grace Place clients in the past.

"I'm super-proud of the company and super-proud of Grace Place as well. It's a great cause," he said. 

Yang was unsure precisely how many nominations Walmart considers each year, but said it's a large pool, and that the winners are chosen based on community need and the services provided by the recipient.

Macsemchuk cited a noteworthy example of the importance of services such as Out of the Cold and what it can mean to clients.

"We met an individual on the street 23 years ago and we did befriend him. Over the years we were really touching base with him. He had a rough story, a rough background. We were just able to give him the hand up that he needed, and I am so happy to know that he is home in his reserve, he works with the band office and he is living a productive life."

"I'm so glad we didn't give up. And I'm so glad he didn't either. Everybody matters. We love people and we love to help them." 

Grace Place's main fundraiser, The Coldest Night of the Year walk, will take place on Feb. 25, with proceeds going toward operating costs.


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