Nearly 180 people filled the pews and aisles as period-costumed carolers singing “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” processed into Thorold’s Trinity United Church last Saturday evening. Thus, began the two-hour dramatic reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol by the St Thomas Community Players of St Catharines.
Chain rattling and bell ringing along with the timbral voices of the characters resonated powerfully in the church’s 1849 interior.
Later, enjoying a hot cider and a festive biscuit or piece of cheese in the hall, it was hard not to suppress enthusiasm for the year it’s been for the Friends of Beaverdams Church.
And, indeed, twelve months later, it’s hard to believe how much has been achieved. With its ranks more than doubling to nearly 100, the group held its first official elections in April, bought historic Beaverdams Church from the City of Thorold for $2 in August, and received corporate charitable status designation from the Canada Revenue Agency in late November.
President David Cowan observes how well everything has come together for the group this year: “It’s actually impressive how quickly approval the CRA approved our application for charitable status … Six weeks has to be a record! It confirms and reinforces the importance of saving Beaverdams Church, both as a heritage building and as an emblem of community spirit.”
“Notably, corporate charitable status means that the Friends can now apply to corporations and foundations for grant monies that will help with the larger restoration expenses.” He adds: “We can now also give receipts for tax purposes to individuals who make donations.”
And, in the space of only three years, nearly $40,000 has been raised through community fundraising events and donations.
Dickens Night alone netted a staggering $3,700 through a combination of ticket sales and donations! Importantly, the journey is not only about receiving but also giving back to the community. It is for this reason, that the Friends will be offering $500 to Community Care Thorold from the proceeds to help those less fortunate over the holiday season.
Anyone who’s watched a grassroots organization take hold and fly will recognize the hallmarks of success in the story of the Friends of Beaverdams Church!
As recently elected councilor Michael Charron and former co-chair of the Heritage Thorold LACAC notes, the Friends of Beaverdams Church organization “represents the best of community activism.”
Special thanks go to Marg Newby and the St Thomas Community Players for their amazing performance, to Rev. George Addison and members of Trinity United Church for facilitating the event and coordinating the reception as well as to Siobhan Bland, Marilyn Chapman, Pamela Minns, Beate Wolf, Big Red Markets for their contributions – and to Donna Cowan and Sarah King Head along with the other Friends of Beaverdams Church for their dedication and tireless work in organizing the event.
Check out some of the photos from the event!