Legion Ladies’ lunches a lifeline

Posted on: February 17, 2023

The Smiths Falls Legion Ladies’ Auxiliary performed an essential service during the Covid-19 pandemic. They stepped up and met the need of hungry citizens by preparing bagged lunches twice a week, in a socially-distanced and safe way. The meals were picked up or delivered (not consumed on site); roughly 160 meals each Monday and Thursday.

“It was good for the people we were helping – but it was just as good for us,” said Helen Wilkinson, president of the Smiths Falls Ladies’ Auxiliary.

The Legion Branch 95 – including the Ladies’ Auxiliary – was shut down during the peak of Covid-19 restrictions. But the Ladies’ Auxiliary was tasked with preparing bagged lunches for the needy in Smiths Falls, so every Monday and Thursday a small group of dedicated volunteers met in the Legion kitchen and got to work. Masked and maintaining distance, 4-5 women gathered to make sandwiches and pack lunches.

They prepared egg salad and three different types of meat sandwiches each week. The lunches included a sandwich, fruit, dessert, and a drink. They also offered hot beverages, and soup during the winter months.

“We really loved working together. It was a lot better than sitting alone in our homes,” Wilkinson confessed. “There are 40 members of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, but many members are in nursing homes or unable to help. With our usual events shut down, it was getting lonely. This was a great chance to get together with the girls.”

“We had a lot of fun in the kitchen,” Wilkinson recalled, “we got along really well. And when things didn’t go as planned, we laughed about it and carried on.”

Wilkinson did the ordering and shopping for the undertaking, with help from other members of the Auxiliary when she was in hospital. “I couldn’t have done it alone,” she said, “Iris Doran and Jean Lasenba took over the ordering and shopping for me.”

The food was purchased from Quattrochi’s, Garden Market, and Giant Tiger.

The Ladies’ Auxiliary began packing lunches in August of 2020, and wrapped up their last sandwich in December 2022. They took a two-month break in the fall of 2021 to focus on the Legion’s annual Poppy Campaign. In their two years of service, they passed out 21,187 bagged lunches.

“We met a lot of people,” said Wilkinson, “and seeing them every week, twice a week, we got to know them. Doing this helped the community, and it helped us.”

Smiths Falls community meals are currently being held at Hanley Hall under the oversight of The Table with plenty of help from local volunteers; all are welcome.

Article by Janelle Labelle

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News