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What do you do when money is tight? You hold a fundraiser.

That’s what Inner City Youth Ministry has planned for early May:  an online auction being held on its Facebook page.

“We’re predicting a significant deficit this year,” said Erin Rideout, administrative assistant and former director. “We want to be able to continue to do what we’re doing because more than ever there’s a need.”

With a fleet of volunteers, what they do is pack thousand of lunches a month for school children in Saint John.

The online auction is expected to help alleviate the money crunch and allow the Lunch Connection program to continue.

On May 1, on the Lunch Connection Facebook page (, donated items and services will be uploaded and people will have the chance to bid. 

You bid by commenting on an item. On May 10, the bids are finalized and the winning bidder is notified. 

“It’s a chance to help feed kids and for us to continue to offer the Lunch Connection program,” said Erin, adding all monies will go to help feed kids.

From now until the end of April, Erin and Bonnie Hunt, ICYM’s director, will be looking for donations of goods and services to make the auction a robust one.

“We’ve sent out request letters to retail, businesses, restaurants and individuals,” said Erin. “We already have some donations from individuals, from bowling to art, home-baked cookies to gift cards. There will be something for everyone.”

If you have something to donate, contact Erin ( She suggests readers check the Facebook page for the items and for instructions on how to bid. A comment serves as a bid. 

While this is a Saint John initiative, Erin will do her best to get winning items to buyers one way or another. 

“There’s no need for it to be only Saint John people,” she said.

She’s hopeful for a successful auction, and if that comes to fruition, it could become an annual event. She’s anticipating both the church community and the schools will get involved to help make it worthwhile.

By the time the auction is held, Lunch Connection will be serving 14 schools in the city three days a week.

With groceries at an all-time high price, delivering bagged lunches that are healthy, peanut-free and Halal has become more of a challenge. What ICYM really needs is a good number of new monthly donors to sustain their efforts. Grants cannot be counted on, and they usually do not cover the two things at the top of their budget.

“It’s hard to find grants that cover salaries,” she said. “Often they don’t cover salaries and food, and those are our two main costs.”

Volunteers are the backbone of Lunch Connection, an arm of Inner City Youth Ministry. Here these women are packing snack mix for the bagged lunches that go to elementary schools in Saint John three days a week.

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