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Sunday, May 31, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

Building more than birdhouses

St. Jacobs’ Stew Gingrich uses his woodworking skills to raise money for WCS food bank

Unquestionably, COVID-19 has been great for one thing: The virus has successfully increased the call to “love thy neighbour.”

St. Jacobs’ Stew Gingrich has taken to heart the idea of supporting his fellow township residents, putting his woodworking skills to use in raising funds for Woolwich Community Services’ food bank.

The retired Home Hardware employee has been making birdhouses, the sales of which he donates to WCS. Gingrich created 100 birdhouses two weeks ago and was shocked to see them disappear so fast. An employee of Home Hardware for 46 years, Gingrich would make birdhouses for craft shows.

“It’s fairly easy to make. It’s a good gift, it’s useful – I’ve got a couple of different patterns for birdhouses I make,” he said of the craft.

Word spread like wildfire through social media, and one by one, the birdhouses were taken, leaving cash donations in their wake. Gingrich eventually reached out to WCS.

“I wasn’t sure how this would work out. I felt a donation was better to allow more people to get a birdhouse, as some people may be struggling to pay bills right now but would want to make some kind of a donation to such a worthy cause as the food bank, especially right now,” he explained.

Gingrich initially kept the project under wraps since he didn’t know what kind of response he’d see, nor how much would be donated, as he hadn’t set a minimum.

“I let people decide whatever they felt the value was. I didn’t want to cut anyone out that couldn’t afford very much. And there are other people in a different position that would donate more.”

Through all of that, his focus was on raising money for the food bank, helping to stock the shelves and providing more community members with access to its services.

Within just four days, the stand out front of Gingrich’s home had emptied, and he had successfully provided a flock of new homes.

“Because it was donation only, I had collected $1,628.31. The good thing was the penny was American,” he laughed. “And a $10 voucher for Kernels, the popcorn place in Conestoga Mall – I’m assuming someone had a voucher or didn’t have any cash and wanted to put it in extra.”

The overwhelming response has inspired Gingrich to build an additional batch of birdhouses and refill his stand.

With the first batch placed on display right before Mother’s Day, the timing couldn’t have been better.

“This is turning out to be multiple gifts, with the real gift to families that need help from the food bank right now,” he said, noting the idea of being able to help others while gaining something for one’s self has proven effective.

Gingrich has currently set himself a goal of raising $2,500 for the cause. In addition to supporting the food bank’s efforts, the project is also benefiting local Home Hardware building centres where he buys the lumber and other material needed for the project.

Those interested in purchasing a birdhouse and supporting the WCS food bank can call Gingrich at 519-664-3663.

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