• James Parry

Hudson's ‘The Bunker’ soon celebrates 70 years of supporting the local community


PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Volunteers Fay Louch (left) on bag packing duty and Mary Hannon handling the cash behind the counter welcomed shoppers from far and wide at The Bunker this past Saturday morning, March 17.

Its official title is the Hudson War Memorial Library Shop, located in the library’s basement in the heart of town and open for only two hours every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. But for most of the thousands who shop there annually - many of them every week - it is affectionately known as ‘The Bunker.’

Completely volunteer-run and selling solely donated items, it not only helps finance the family lending library above, but also gives thousands of dollars every year to other worthwhile causes throughout the local community.

Today, The Bunker - gearing up for its 70th anniversary this year - continues to fulfill that mission while welcoming new donations to be recycled and sold in the coming months.

Said volunteer and a member of the Library Shop Committee, Donna Atwood, “We are so appreciative of the generous support of the community over the years and we thank everyone who has donated and shopped here. Were it not for them we simply would not exist today.

“So when people are planning on doing their spring cleaning this year, we would like them to think of The Bunker where we can reassure them that with our emphasis on recycling and repurposing donated items, absolutely nothing goes to waste,” Atwood said.

“In fact, we have become a sort of clearing house and items not being put out for sale here for whatever reason are being sent on to other organizations in need in Montreal such as the Old Brewery Mission, Chez Doris, Big Brothers and Sisters, and Sun Youth.”

By way of background, the shop was actually founded by a group of ladies who, during World War II, sent out a call for items to be donated which they would then sell and, with the money, send care packages overseas.

In 1949 when the library first opened its doors in the former Masonic Lodge building at 60 Elm Street - to serve as a lasting memorial to the men and women of Hudson Heights, Hudson, and Como who served in World Wars I and II - the shop moved into the basement. Again selling only donated items while helping to pay such necessities as heating, insurance, buying books and the like.

As it grew in popularity and support on the part of the community, some 25 years ago it decided that any money left over after paying the bills would go to help others amounting to 40 cents of every dollar raised.

PHOTO BY JAMES PARRY

Buyers at the Hudson War Memorial Library Shop never know what they will find on the clothing racks set up for men, women, and children at prices that are simply unbeatable.

Causes that have been the recipients of cheques include Le Pont/Bridging food bank, Vaudreuil-Soulanges Palliative Care Residence, Nova Hudson and its Adult Day Centre, La Passerelle, Hudson's Firemen’s Christmas Basket Fund, Le Nichoir, Hudson Historical Society, Angels of Hudson, and the Alzheimer Society Suroît.

Moreover, when special needs arise, the day's take at the cash register has gone to such causes as helping victims of last year's flood in Rigaud, survivors of the Lac Megantic disaster and Fort McMurray wildfires, as well as Syrian refugees arriving in Montreal.

Adds Atwood, “Because we are the War Memorial Library, we also support several organizations such as the volunteer and patients committee at the Sainte-Anne's Veterans’ Hospital, the Old Brewery Mission in Montreal which is helping homeless veterans and so many others, as well as contributing to the upkeep and maintenance of the newly-renovated Cenotaph at the Hudson Legion.”

So what exactly is The Bunker - which currently has some 22 volunteers putting in a total of about 140 hours a week - looking for? Clean reusable items of virtually every description from clothing to jewellery to artwork to household items and small appliances with the exception of furniture, TVs and computers. All of which can be left in the special clearly-designated room at the top of the stairs that is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

New volunteers to help with sorting, pricing, stacking the racks and shelves, and working the occasional Saturday morning are also welcome and for further information call (450) 458-4814 or pop by the library itself and introduce yourself.

And as to why it is known as The Bunker? It was the name first coined by Hudsonite Peter Stephenson, a distinguished World War II Veteran now in his 90s who served in the Navy and who was a former member of the Library's Board of Directors.

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