Social Program Manager Donna Trudeau and Food Bank Coordinator, Janice Stoneypoint present Vincent Eshkakogan, owner of Riverview Variety with a thank you for his business’ support for the community food bank. – Photo by Robert Porter

By Leslie Knibbs

SAGAMOK ANISHNAWBEK – For the second year running, Vincent and Candy Eshkakogan of Sagamok Anishnawbek  held a “Fill The Trailer” food drive to supplement the pantry and shelves at the community food bank on July 28.

“We sometimes forget that people aren’t just hungry at Christmas time,” said Candy who is the owner of Riverview Variety in Sagamok with Vincent.

With a goal of going beyond last year’s collection of 447 non-perishable food products,  the couple and their staff of volunteers more than doubled last year’s total by collecting 916 non perishable food items.

The Eshkakogan’s efforts along with other volunteers keep their community healthy and vibrant with this annual event.

“The fill the trailer challenge is close to our hearts as we raised this baby ourselves,” said Candy Eshkakogan.  “We pounded on doors, reached out to sponsors which isn’t always easy to do. The trailer challenge is our way of giving back to our community as a whole.  We owe our success to all the wonderful people that make their way down and fill our trailer.  We had the Mackans drive from Sault Ste. Marie and dumped out over 100 non perishables and we had a group of five women from Espanola roll in with 117 non-perishables.

Throughout the day many exhibits and vendors were set up including face painting for children.  The event had the feel of a small festival.  Face painting was provided by popular Chantel’s Gladu Face Painting from Sudbury.  The parking lot was busy all day with families and friends stopping by to help out and take part in the event.

“We invited local crafters and small businesses to join us in the parking lot to help them market their goods and services,” said Candy.   “We did not charge a fee for their attendance , we only asked for eight cans [of food] to the trailer.”

“This idea [for the food drive] came to us with some thought of how we can contribute on a larger scale. We have over the past three years sponsored many functions within our community and extended communities. The annual Ethan Eshkakogan Toy Drive, the Little NHL , both a male and female baseball team , church and elders functions , the annual Espanola Fire Dept ATV poker run, and the Law Enforcement Ditch Pig poker run for Special Olympics.”

Community-minded people like the Eshkakogan family and their team of volunteers not only make a significant contribution to the community, they are indeed role models for other individuals and small businesses in the area.

“We believe when your intentions are honest and true you make positive foot prints. We are very proud of our success with our trailer challenge and look forward to it year after year.  We can rest now knowing we have made some lives a little easier at the dinner table,” said Candy.