Downtown Winchester donates $1,000 to kick off Foodland children’s mental health drive

Members of the Downtown Winchester committee (front two rows, from left): Vince Zandbelt, Gloria Stewart, Owen Shortt, Beth Shortt, Sandy Puddephatt, with Winchester Foodland proprietor — receiving the $1,000 familyofsupport.com donation from another committee member, Gary Annable. Members of the Foodland team appear in background. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

WINCHESTER — Children’s mental health has loomed as a big concern during this pandemic, and Winchester Foodland has begun helping by inviting customers to contribute $2 for the cause at the checkout counter.

The Sobey’s familyofsupport.com campaign got underway yesterday with an initial $1,000 donation from the Downtown Winchester committee, whose members brought a cheque (and even a classic motorcycle) to kickstart the effort.

Winchester Foodland owner Dan Pettigrew says any donation is welcome, though sums will be broken down into $2 increments through a special pricing code in place at the cash register through the end of September. “You as a customer can say l’d like to make a $50 donation, and it’ll trigger the code 25 times.”

Local funds will flow through Sobey’s — owner of the Foodland brand — into mental health programs at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario.

Pettigrew says that child mental health is an important issue to him personally, as his young daughter suffers from anxiety.

The grocer also points out that his store employs many teenagers and others not far removed from their childhoods. “We have over half our workforce under the age of 25.”

“This initiative is about kids, but mental health awareness is huge,” he adds.

Pettigrew credits the local committee for quickly arranging the kickoff donation after he told member Owen Shortt about the initiative. “They’ve been a tremendous supporter of this store,” he marvels. “This community is phenomenal.”

Downtown Winchester committee member Vince Zandbelt (left) happened to bring along his father’s classic DKW motorcycle to the Foodland presentation — for its appointed visit as part of Zandbelt’s “virtual ride” in this year’s Ride for Dad. Winchester Foodland is one of his sponsors. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

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