Boilermakers Local 128, a non-profit trade organization that provides skilled labour to contractors across the province, has donated $30,000 to charities across Ontario, including a $5,000 donation to our local Soup Kitchen Community Centre.
The donations are part of the non-profit’s “Purple Ribbon Campaign” that honours and thanks essential workers helping Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the campaign is to provide support to local food banks during this time of uncertainty.
Participants wear a purple ribbon to symbolize their support and recognition of essential workers. Purple ribbons are given in exchange for monetary donations to local food banks, with 100 percent of all donations going directly to the participating charity food bank closest to the donors' community.
Joe Duprey, the Boilermakers Local 128 Business Representative for Northeastern Ontario, made the trip to Sault Ste. Marie from his Sudbury office to personally hand in their donation to the Soup Kitchen in late December.
“It’s the time of COVID-19, people are in trouble, and soup kitchens need help now more than ever,” Duprey said. “When I talked to the soup kitchen in the Sault, I found that their need has jumped to 300 percent more than what it was before the pandemic. We knew that we should get involved. There have been periods of time where the economy has affected us as well. So we know what it’s like to be hungry and go without a meal. We wanted to show support for the communities we live in and support soup kitchens and organizations that feed people.”
Duprey said that it’s hard for him to describe the feeling he gets when he has the opportunity to give to a charity that helps people that are hungry and in need of assistance.
“I know what it’s like to be broke, homeless and hungry. I was unexpectedly released from the military in 1990 with absolutely no help. It wasn’t until Boilermakers Local 128 gave me the opportunity to go to work and earn a living that got me off the street,” he said.
“We came up with the Purple Ribbon Campaign to support essential workers. We take the money donated to us and give it to different charities in Ontario. We’ve donated $30,000 throughout the province so far,” Duprey said.
Boilermakers Local 128 has made six donations of $5,000 each to charities and food banks such as Our Children Our Future in Sudbury, Regional Food Distribution in Thunder Bay, Inn of the Good Sheppard in Sarnia, Food Share in Hamilton, Partners in Mission Food Bank in Kingston, and Soup Kitchen Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie.
“They were really thankful, they couldn’t believe it,” Duprey said of the Soup Kitchen’s reaction to the donation. “We presented the cheque and told them we just wanted to help them out. They were very grateful.”
Duprey says that the organization also does clothing drives and fundraisers to try to raise money and give back to their communities.
“That’s what the Purple Ribbon Campaign is all about,” he said.
“The Boilermakers Union is a small specialized union. We’re not that big, but we recognize that all communities need help and we wish more people would get involved. It’s as much about awareness as it is about giving,” Duprey said. “A lot of communities are in need right now and we’re just trying to help out.”