What a breakfast!

by | Mar 10, 2024

Benefit attracts a massive crowd in support of Covered Bridge Potato Chips workers

An estimated crowd of over 1,000 people turned out for breakfast Saturday morning, March 9, in support of Carleton Bridge Potato Chips employees. 

“Such a great event today,” said Woodstock Coun. Julie Calhoun-Williams, who set the wheels in motion for the benefit breakfast just a week earlier after hearing news of the devastating fire which destroyed the Hartland potato chip plant. 

Several volunteers from the community, organizations and businesses volunteered to help deliver the benefit breakfast on short notice. (Ryan Genereaux)

Within hours, Calhoun-Williams embraced support from her church, the Woodstock Wesleyan in Jacksonville, her colleagues on Woodstock council and the Carleton County business community, which provided the funds, food, beverages and items needed to feed the hundreds who attended with donations in hand. 

With everything required to host the breakfast at the Woodstock Wesleyan, Calhoun-Williams said 100 per cent of the donations will go to Covered Bridge workers. She added those who couldn’t attend the breakfast can still donate via an e-transfer to coveredbridgechips@woodstockwesleyan.org.

Woodstock Mayor Trina Jones and council members joined Wesleyan staff, church members and dozens of volunteers from the Carleton County community and businesses to prepare, cook and serve the hundreds in attendance. 

Woodstock Mayor Trina Jones brings another pan of scrambled eggs. (Ryan Genereaux photo)

In addition to thanking the event’s sponsors, donors and volunteers, Calhoun-William praised the Covered Bridge staff who showed up to help and express their appreciation. 

As the breakfast crowd began to thin just after 11 a.m., several volunteers noted the spirit-lifting impact of seeing chip plant workers greeting each other and displaying gratitude to supportive community members. 

Mayor Jones explained that the tremendous response to the benefit breakfast serves as an example of Carleton County’s community spirit. 

Ryan Genereaux, Woodstock Wesleyan’s Youth and Communications Pastor, said the church staff and members were proud to participate in the event. He said the outpouring of support in the wake of the tragic fire is characteristic of Carleton County generosity. 

Despite the massive crowd, the food line moved quickly as the benefit breakfasts served approximately 1,000 meals over three hours. (Ryan Genereabux photo)

While the event greeters clicked off close to 900 attendees, they acknowledged they only started the count a half hour after people started arriving. They estimated that attendance surpassed 1,000 people. 

Calhoun-Williams said a final total of the money raised won’t be available for a few days, noting that she expects more donations to roll in through e-transfer. 

The fundraising total should be substantial based on the 10s, 20s, 50s, and higher bills in the donation jars deposited by the 1,000 or more who enjoyed the breakfast. The money will help many of the approximately 185 employees affected by the March 1 fire that destroyed the Waterville plant. 

Covered Bridge Potato Chips President Ryan Albright committed to rebuilding the plant at the same location. However, the timeline remains unclear. 

All levels of government, CUPE, company suppliers and others pledged support for the rebuild, noting the chip plant’s important role in the economy of Hartland, Carleton County and New Brunswick. 

The turnout to assist plant workers at the March 9 benefit breakfast demonstrates that support for the company and its workers extends to the core of the Carleton County community. 

A Hartland Fire Department truck sits in a full Woodstock Wesleyan Church parking lot on Saturday, March 8, as an estimated 1,000 people attended the benefit breakfast for Covered Bridge Potato Chip plant workers. (Ryan Genereaux photo)

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