If you’re looking for gift ideas for loved ones, a favourite client or an office gift exchange, a holiday gift basket from the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre might just do the trick. Kirsty Grant, Visitor Centre coordinator can help you select a basket of Cowichan made products. Get in touch with the Cowichan Regional Visitor Centre for more information. (Alec Wheeler photo)

Business notes: Stuff the Truck event in Duncan a huge $436K success

Our friends at 89.7 Juice FM in Duncan are playing some beautiful Christmas music again this year, to the tune of $436,000 worth of food raised for local food banks.

The local radio station’s annual Stuff the Truck event, a partnership involving Save-On-Foods, Minute Men Moving & Storage and other community volunteers wrapped up last week and the outcome was phenomenal.

Julie Winter of Vista Radio, owner of 89.7 Juice FM, says Stuff the Truck gets bigger every year.

“The truck was stuffed. More than 189,000 lbs. of food was collected in grab bags, cash donations and pallets,” Winter says.

“We live in a wonderful, caring community and the support of everyone who took the time to donate is overwhelming.”

Winter says the event has been a Christmas season favourite for many years and was held at the Walmart store at one time. It moved to Save-On-Foods in 2014 and it was onward and upward from that point on.

“I’d like to thank store manager Derik [Sheers] and his team from Save-On-Foods, all the volunteers from the Cowichan Valley Basket Society, all of our fabulous volunteers who stepped up, Starbucks, Panago Pizza, Santa and everyone who came out to show their support,” Winter said.

Pallets were sold for $500 and 189 were purchased.

The need to support the food banks in the Cowichan Valley is especially important this year says Winter.

“So many working families, those on fixed income, folks affected by the [lumber mill] strike, or those who have simply fallen on hard times will have a much merrier Christmas thanks to all of you.

“This amount of donation could potentially stock the food banks through 2020.”

In 2017 Stuff the Truck raised $135,000 and last year’s total was $306,000.

“This year’s total of $436,000 blew us all away,” Winter said.

• • •

After many years of providing great food at its Whippletree Junction location, the popular Pioneer House Restaurant will close for good.

A fire in August of 2018 forced the closure of the eatery but as late as last May the owners were confident Pioneer House would reopen within a few weeks.

Now, it appears that isn’t going to happen. A post on social media updated the situation.

“After a great deal of consideration, the iconic Pioneer House Restaurant will not re-open.

“We wish to thank our valued customers for the wonderful support throughout the years. You are very much appreciated.

“A huge shout out to all the dedicated staff, both front and back of house. You were instrumental in making the Pioneer House the great experience it was. A special thank you to Mark, Tina and Venessa.

“Those of you who have gift cards can email us at pioneerhouse@shaw.ca to arrange a refund from now till the end of February.

“From ALL the staff and management of the Pioneer House, thank you and goodbye.”

About 40 people worked at the restaurant.

• • •

The Duncan Cowichan Chamber is welcoming London Drugs as the exclusive sponsor for the Customer Service category for The Black Tie Awards 2020.

The Customer Service Award recognizes an individual who demonstrates excellence in customer service, by being ready and willing to help, going above and beyond the call of duty, and always doing so with a smile.

Black Tie was founded in 1996 on the Customer Service Award, which remains the most popular of the nine award categories, and will receive an anticipated 30 per cent of the total nominations for the 2020 award year.

“Exceptional customer service is a core value at London Drugs, as demonstrated by our own Ashley Mulholland, who won the Customer Service Award at the 2015 Black Tie honours,” says store manager, Allen Peabody, on sponsoring the award category for a second consecutive year.

“London Drugs is proud to support The Black Tie Awards in recognizing customer service stars throughout the Cowichan region and we look forward to honouring this year’s deserving nominees, finalists and award recipient.”

Elly Ruge of Cowichan Auto Repair was the recipient of the Customer Service Award at the 2018 Black Tie Awards, which were held at Brentwood College School.

“I was shocked to learn I’d even been nominated because my business was relatively young at the time,” recalls Ruge.

“The competition was tough and my fellow finalists were exceptional. Dobson’s Glass, for example — a great, family run business that has been a pillar in the community for over 100 years! I was overwhelmed and truly honoured to receive the award, and especially from Allen [London Drugs] who also happened to be one of my first, and now long-standing, customers.”

The Black Tie Awards will be held at the Cowichan Performing Arts Centre on the evening of Friday, April 17.

Tickets will go on sale March 2020.

Nominations for the nine Black Tie Award categories will remain open until midnight on Jan. 31, 2020. Visit www.duncancc.bc.ca to submit a nomination.

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