The Nation Valley ATV Club held their second annual food drive for Community Food Share on Sat., March 2, 2024, and from all accounts it was a great day filled with good friends, good food, for a good cause and with more than enough mud to go around. Just shortly after 10:00 a.m. Nation Valley ATV Club President John Garlough gave the signal to let the ride begin. See page 6 for the full story. Tinkess Photo

SOUTH MOUNTAIN – The Nation Valley ATV Club held their second annual food drive for Community Food Share on Sat., March 2, 2024, and from all accounts it was a great day filled with good friends, good food, for a good cause and with more than enough mud to go around.

Approximately 85 riders were registered for the event, which was expected to run from 10:00 a.m. until approximately 5:00 p.m. Due to early spring conditions portions of the trails were closed, but there was still enough available to make the day worthwhile.

The plan was to head out around 10:00 a.m. led by an OPP escort till they hit the trails. Once there they would make their way to South Mountain where they would have hot dogs and hamburgers courtesy of the South Mountain Fire Department. The ride would continue after lunch, ending up back at North Dundas District High School where a dinner courtesy of Leatherworks would be waiting for them.

John Garlough is the NVATVC president. He says the club has approximately 600 members, but that number fluctuates. He said that some people were disappointed that some trails were closed due to the early spring and unusual winter weather conditions we had experienced, but at least with an ATV you can still get out if some trails are open. That’s more than those who drive snowmobiles had to look forward to this year.

Garlough says that they have a great relationship with neighbouring clubs. One thing they can always use though, is volunteers. “We can always use more,” says Garlough. “Sometimes they can be hard to come by and we can always use more.

“I think what they were doing before was a very few people doing everything. That’s the way it kind of works. Now there’s good 12-14 of us on the board, trying to pull as many people as we can in with us, we have a lot of fun together.”

The relationship the club has with the Township of North Dundas has been a real bonus.  “You know, the township here is really good with us,” adds Garlough. “We’re really fortunate this last year, we really leveraged the township to get some nice changes for ourselves. We can now ride at night, which is fantastic. That was a long time coming. Over the last year we raised $16,000 for the local foodbank. People see that and realize that no, we’re just not on the road. We’re up there raising money for the community, which is really nice.”

Jane Schoones is the Team Lead for Dundas County and North Stormont Community Food Share, the recipient of the day’s fundraising activity. She says she can’t say enough about the work they do.

“They’re an amazing club and we’re grateful for their participation,” said Schoones. “They do provide amazing support for people in the community, and they volunteer throughout. We really appreciate them partnering with us.”

Their support, according to Schoones, is vital. The number of people visiting the foodbank is up signifigantly in January and February compared to 2023.

“If we can partner throughout the year, we should be okay, said Schoones, “Because then that way, it’ll offset the increase in clients, but it is what it is.”

One group that is driving the increase in visits to the foodbank are working families, people who never thought they would have to go to a foodbank to make ends meet, but that, according to Schoones, is the reality of the situation many people find themselves in.

“You’ve got to pay for heat, you got to pay for everything, right?  So, if they come and see us once a month, it maybe helps their money go a little bit further, particularly I think over the winter months.

“If you’re a senior, you’re on fixed income,” adds Schoones.  “I think with the families, its cost of living, costs of food. With the seniors I think it’s just if you’re only on a pension, that pension hasn’t had an increase. You’re always stretching the penny, well, sometimes stretching the penny, you need a handout. You may not come and see us every month of the year. But if that’s what it takes for you to get by, and to have healthy food, because we are healthy choice clients.

It is the efforts of groups like the South Nation ATV Club that allow Community Food Share to make a difference to so many people. And as one event ends, planning for the next one begins (Fill the bag with bags distributed on May 4 and picked up on May 11.)

Charlotte Coons holds many titles within the SNCATVC, including secretary, event co-chair along with Vice President Gerald Savoie. She says that things are going very well. “We already have $2,800 raised online,” said Coons, “And then sponsors that come in with large cash donations, and then we’ll have the silent action and stuff. So, I’m not going to guess this year on how much we’re raising.”

According to Coons, each year is different, and you just find ways to deal with it. “Last year, we were contending with two and a half feet of snow and this year, it’s going to be nothing but mud,” she said. “We never know what we’re going to expect. We make accommodations. So, this year, we must skip a few trails because the damage would mean we wouldn’t be able to fix them. But if you can’t control the weather, you do the best you can. We will be at the fire department for lunch. They’re doing our barbecue again. We’ll be getting a picture of everybody lined up in front of the fire hall again, like we did last year. It will be a great day!