Impressive fundraising efforts
Connie Johnston (centre) and other organizers hold up an oversized cheque for $7,700 at last Saturday’s Trivia Night. Courtesy Paul Deveau photo

RUSSELL – Like many of the Trivia Nights Connie Johnston has presided over for the past 15 years, the latest successful event last Saturday had a large personal component.

Held upstairs at Russell Arena, it was the second annual trivia fundraiser in support of Santa for Seniors; the first time around, $3,000 was raised through the combination of purchased tables, gift card tree, live and silent auctions; this time out, the total was $7,700.

The money will be used to purchase Christmas gifts for occupants of seniors residences and nursing homes in the greater Russell area, some of whom have no family and receive no visitors during the Holiday Season, Johnston observed.

“My dad was at St. Viateur’s in Limoges before he died. He shared a room with a gentleman from New Brunswick, a WWII veteran who was totally alone except for a niece who visited once a year. It’s hard to imagine when most of us came from such large families.”

Last year, Johnston continued, a man showed up at one of the local facilities with nothing, not even decent clothes. Allison Chisholm and Stephane Perras of the Santa for Seniors program were able to use some of the money raised not only to buy the man something for Christmas, but also some new clothing.

“I was amazed at the number of gifts purchased and distributed last year. It was in the hundreds and that was just in the Russell-Embrun area. Most of the gifts are something the recipients asked for and all of them are wrapped before being delivered.”

While Johnston is delighted with the results of last Saturday’s event, she doesn’t have much time to dwell upon them. She’s already busy preparing for the next Trivia Night, this Saturday at Russell Arena, this time in support of students from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic High School and their upcoming mission trip to Guatemala.

Then on Nov. 29, a first-time event is shaping up, not exactly a Trivia Night per se but something similar, also at the arena with Johnston at the helm, the Great Russell Pay It Forward Trivia with a Christmas theme. There’ll be a gift card tree but no auction items and cost per player will be a suggested minimum donation of $10.

“Funds raised will benefit everyone in Russell Township. The mystery benefactor will remain a surprise until the night in question.”