Finding a parking place in Grand Bend on a hot summer’s day can be a real challenge, with visitors flocking to the village. The members of Huron Shores United Church, the big red brick building at 25 Main Street, decided that their parking spaces along Queens Avenue could be put to good use – not only for the tourists crowding into the beachside resort, but also for various organizations that help the residents of the Lambton Shores, North Middlesex, and South Huron area.
The Outreach Team at the Church partnered with the Municipality of Lambton Shores in an ongoing parking project to assist people in the community who might need a helping hand. Signs are put up each spring, along with a donation box asking for a contribution, letting drivers know that they could park at the church. Occasionally slips of paper telling visitors about the project are left under windshield wipers.
Visitors and locals alike generously put funds in the box. “Every cent goes to people in this area. This year’s total was $5,722.00,” says Peter Challen, chair of the Church’s Outreach Team. “We believe that a faith community’s strength is best measured by its impact in the world,” he explains. Challen presented the idea of collecting parking donations five years ago and sought the municipality’s approval. Since then, thousands of dollars have been received and re-directed back to the community.
This year’s donations were recently disbursed: We Can Help at the Grand Bend and Area Community Health Centre – $1722.00; Grand Bend Public School Nutrition Program – $1,000.00; Hillside Public School Nutrition Program, Kettle & Stony Point First Nation – $1,000.00; Zurich’s Blessings Food Bank – $800.00; Ailsa Craig Food Bank – $800.00; Grand Bend Legion Care and Comfort Fund – $300.00; and Huron Big Brothers – $100.00.
“We are delighted to partner with the Municipality of Lambton Shores in this tremendous project,” says the church’s minister, Rev. Dr. Kate Crawford. She adds, “John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, said it best: “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”