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Elk Falls fund still aiding people

RON JOHNSON of the Elk Falls Emergency Benevolent Society (left) donated a $4,000 cheque Friday to the Dawn to Dawn Care-A-Van program. Johnson is pictured with Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society chair Dale Bishop and Care-A-Van program co-ordinator Helen Boyd. The society will make another cheque presentation in February to St. Joseph’s Hospital.  -
RON JOHNSON of the Elk Falls Emergency Benevolent Society (left) donated a $4,000 cheque Friday to the Dawn to Dawn Care-A-Van program. Johnson is pictured with Dawn to Dawn Action on Homelessness Society chair Dale Bishop and Care-A-Van program co-ordinator Helen Boyd. The society will make another cheque presentation in February to St. Joseph’s Hospital.
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A benevolent society formed while the Elk Falls mill operated in Campbell River has donated $4,000 to the Dawn to Dawn Care-A-Van program, a mobile health-care unit that supports homeless and at-risk individuals in the Comox Valley.

Millworkers and staff formed the society by donating a couple of dollars every pay day to a fund intended to benefit employees during abnormal times, such as tending to a sick child who required medical treatment in Vancouver. Workers could borrow up to a certain amount, paid back via payroll deductible.

“It worked really good for us,” said Ron Johnson, a mill employee who chairs the society.

“Different times in people’s lives they do have extraordinary circumstances.”

The Elk Falls mill donated a significant amount of money to various causes before shutting down in 2009. A unique feature of the mill was its ‘boneyard’ that sold bits of metal and scrap. The money it generated was donated to the United Way.

“The mill itself was a very vibrant little place,” Johnson said.

Because it is a registered government society, the benevolent society needs to either donate funds to charity or hand it over to the B.C. government.

The choice was a no-brainer.

The society has earmarked two-thirds of its money ($100,000) for Campbell River — where about two-thirds of the staff live — while one-third ($30,000) will be split between Comox Valley charities, to reflect the number of Valley residents who worked at the mill. Beneficiaries have included the Comox Valley Food Bank, Salvation Army and a women’s shelter in Campbell River.

The society has also purchased a new set of parallel bars for St. Joseph’s Hospital. This donation represents a personal connection for Johnson who, having suffered a broken lag, can sympathize with hospital staff required to lift patients.

“You get a poor lady who’s trained, it’s not her fault she’s only 110 pounds,” he said.

reporter@comoxvalleyrecord.com

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