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Auction aids homeless, hungry (10 photos)

Funds were raised for homeless teens and hungry children, among many others, at the annual Mel Swart Auction Saturday night

The community came out in full force to support Trinity United Church’s Mel Swart auction Saturday night.

Held in memory of the late politician’s many contributions to his church, the congregation has continued its long-standing history of helping people who are down on their luck.

Shoppers browsed hundreds of donated items before placing bids in both the silent and live auctions at the 27th annual event.

Assisted by auctioneers Orlen Swart and Trinity’s Rev. Jim McKnight, items ranging from old-fashioned preserves, pies and pickles to week-long vacations in Florida went to the highest bidders, following a buffet supper.

“We are grateful that so many of you have supported our work,” said Melva Snowling, Mel Swart’s daughter. “It will help so many people in our community and in St. Catharines. By supporting our auction tonight, you have allowed us to keep our doors open and help all these people.”

Among them, RAFT (which supports homeless teens), local breakfast programs, and Community Care are recipients of the auction’s proceeds.

Funds raised also allow the Pine Street church to continue housing the Thorold Air Cadets, Thorold Community Theatre, and other Trinity-based programs.

“I know there is cynicism and dislike of our politicians today,” Snowling continued, adding that as the daughter of the popular former NDP MPP, “I believe we are fortunate to have with us today people who want to do what is right.”

Mayor Terry Ugulini stated, “It’s events like this that enhance the quality of life in our great city.”

Niagara Centre MP Vance Badawey and Regional chair Jim Bradley spoke on the importance of helping community, and recalled time spent with Mel Swart.

“Mel and I, though we’re different political parties, were extremely close friends,” said Bradley. “Not only the people of the Welland/Thorold riding in those days, but all the people of Ontario benefitted from his honest, dedicated work. Mel is no longer with us in the physical sense, but the memories you and I have of Mel will live a very long time.”