Friday was the 41st anniversary of the Community Living Tillsonburg Valentine Luncheon and Bazaar, held at Avondale Church in Tillsonburg.
"It started out just as a Tea, 59 years ago when they made $5.60," said event coordinator Sandra Bray, who helped organize a team of 18-20 volunteers. "They had the long white gloves and the hats.
"Some of our volunteers, they're here year after year, and some are brand new," noted Bray. "And our friends. They think it's so much fun. We're getting more and more people from Community Living involved in it, too, this year specially."
"Over the years we've developed all of these children's programs," said Marty Graf, Chief Executive Officer, Community Living Tillsonburg, nodding toward a list that includes Family Support, A Child First, Ontario Early Years, Tillsonburg Children's Centre, School Age Programs, Early Learning Program and Norwich Children's Centre.
"We're still supporting children with special needs, through A Child First program, but we also support the families, and we offer as well childcare programs. Recently we opened up a centre in Norwich as well.
"This event has traditionally focused on supporting our children's efforts. It's very successful – and it's successful because of these volunteers, some of them who have done it for so many years. It's a traditional community event."
An estimated 350-400 people enjoyed a lunch of beef barley vegetable soup, sandwiches, and pies for dessert.
"It's been a very successful day," said Virginia Armstrong, chair of the Community Living Tillsonburg board of directors, "and I know people who have said it's the 'best lunch in town today.'"
Bray said Friday's Valentine Luncheon and Bazaar was expected to raise about $4,000-$4,500 for Community Living Tillsonburg.
The bazaar portion of the Luncheon was organized by the St. Mary's Catholic Women's League (CWL) and Long Point Eastern Star contributed with a cookie sale, with proceeds donated to Community Living. Local churches donated pies for dessert.