Special to the Gazette
If the heart of the home is the kitchen, then the heart of Port Alice is its grocery store. And what a big heart it has.
While planning a burger stand Sept. 20 to help Donnie Kernachan and his family with expenses for his cancer treatment, Port Alice residents Marnie Chase and Rose Klein-Beekman approached F.P. Foods owner Bill Feader Sr. for a discount on supplies.
“I’ll tell you what,” Feader answered. “I can do better than that. I will donate all the food.”
Kernachan has a rare blood disorder that required a stem cell transplant. He successfully received the transplant Sept. 24, but now must stay close to the hospital in Vancouver with his wife Nicole, to address any compatibility issues or complications for the next 6-8 months. Vancouver rental costs alone are more than $2,000 per month, on top of keeping their household in Port Alice.
The community of Port Alice stepped up to help the family, long-time North Island residents. Donnie worked in logging and at the Neucel pulp mill. Daughters Katie and Anna, son Martin, and grandson Asher also live in Port Alice.
More than 400 people attended the fundraising barbecue, held in front of F.P. foods from 1-8 p.m. Chase, Klein-Beekman, the F.P. Foods staff, and four young Kernachan cousins kept things running smoothly.
“Our first customer was a young girl with not a lot of money to spare,” says Chase, “she gave me $20 and said, ‘I don’t want a burger, just donate this to the family’.” After that, many customers told them to keep the change from their purchase or just made an outright donation.
By the time the donations were totalled, they had reached $5,290 — and donations are still coming in.
“We thought we’d raise $500, but were hoping for $1,000,” says Marnie. “In our wildest dreams we didn’t think we would raise this kind of money.”
Coincidentally, the barbecue was held one day before the community hosted the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock in a kickoff dinner/auction on the eve if its 2013 ride to Victoria. Port Alice residents and guests raised another $13,950 for childhood cancer victims and research.
The Kernachan family has sent a thank-you to all of Port Alice for its love and support. From Vancouver, Nicole wrote, “A big thank you to Marnie, Rose and Bill at F.P. Foods for their wonderful fundraiser! A huge hug to all the people who have helped support us. We couldn’t do this without you guys! There are really no words to express how much we appreciate and love you all! Thank you so much! We were so overwhelmed at the support and love we have received; it’s why we love Port Alice!”
Bill Feader Sr. opened F.P. Foods grocery store in 1981. It’s now a family business with son Bill Jr. as manager and daughter Amanda in the bakery.
The F.P. Foods family has been a star supporter of the community for decades. It has contributed to the Oscar Hickes hockey tournament, Cops for Cancer and many other local fundraisers for sports teams, graduations and families in need. During the recent Neucel maintenance shut-down, F.P. Foods increased open hours to accommodate the hundreds of contractors in town.
Donations to the Kernachan family can be made at the Port Alice Scotiabank branch.