The coffers of several lake area community groups received a big boost last week thanks to a forestry giant and its annual firewood program.
On Nov. 2, TimberWest representatives were at Ts’uubaa-asatx Square to present five local organizations with cheques totalling $4,000. The recipients were: 1st Lake Cowichan Scouts, the Lake Cowichan Food Bank, Cowichan Lake Community Services, the Cowichan Lake Community Garden and Palsson Elementary School.
“The success of our Lake Cowichan firewood permit program this year allowed TimberWest to donate even more funds to the community, and we love that,” said Domenico Iannidinardo, vice president of sustainability at TimberWest. “We’re always busy in this area. It’s the heart of our forest operations.”
TimberWest has been involved with the firewood program for five years.
“It’s a good way to utilize the forest resource. It’s a great way to involve the community in the resource and appreciate the idea of volunteer work and community spirit,” said Iannidinardo.
After the company has harvested an area, there’s firewood left over and available for members of the public to come and collect at a permit price of $20 per truckload. TimberWest relies on community groups to maintain the permitting process; groups get to keep half that fee while the other half goes back to TimberWest to cover administrative costs.
However, this year the company chose instead to donate that other half back to the community, selecting five groups from a list of suggestions provided by Jayne Ingram of BRI Security, whose services are contracted by TimberWest.
“I create a whole big list of needs for our community and of groups like the Scouts and the food bank. The whole gamut. And I write a little story about each one, what they do in our community,” said Ingram. “And they decide from that list where they’re going to donate money.”
Ingram also has a list of regular wood cutters she contacts whenever there is a woodlot available. There are also individual households that rely on wood stoves who come out and cut for themselves.
“Really it’s about people who cut wood. Those people who cut wood are very enthusiastic that their $20 is going back to our community. It’s going back to something good in our community. The wood cutters think that’s very cool.”
She said more people are getting involved because they know where the money is going.
“We’re very appreciative,” said food bank secretary Cindy Vaast. “Very excited. Very thrilled.”
Vaast said donations like the $1,000 it received will go a long way to ensuring fewer people go hungry in the area, and will largely be spent on produce, dairy and other items they are less likely to receive from the public.
“With winter coming things are a little leaner, colder, people spend their money on things that they don’t have to in the summertime when the weather is warm.”
Amanda Sawatzky, a family counsellor with Cowichan Lake Community Services, was there as a representative for that organization and also among the Scouts leadership.
She said the donation to community services will go towards some of their after school programs for youth.
For the Scouts, that money will help to defray some of the expenses related to upcoming activities.
“We’re going to be rock climbing with the kids in December, we’re going to go up Mount Washington for a weekend campout in January, and then we’re also planning a Science World trip to Vancouver in April, so it will help offset those costs so the families don’t have to put as much money up.”