Lorraine Bates of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society gets her last donation from Stephen Kolasa, who collected pop cans and scrap metal from the now-closed Hammond Cedar mill. (Neil Corbett/THE NEWS)

Last donation from Hammond Cedar millwright

For 22 years cans from the mill gave thousands to Christmas Hamper Society

Lorraine Bates had mixed emotions as she accepted a cheque for $2,000 this week.

The organizer of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Christmas Hamper Society received her last donation from an employee of Hammond Cedar who has been giving to the cause for decades.

“They have been doing it since 1997,” said Bates, noting the funds are mostly raised through cashing in pop cans from the employees. “He was sad when he brought it in.”

“He just said ‘This is the last one Lorraine,’ and gave me a hug.”

Interfor closed the mill at the end of October after it operated for more than a century.

Stephen Kolasa was a millwright at the mill, and one of 200 people who worked there who lost his job. There had been an employee who collected pop cans around the mill, for his own ‘beer money.’ Then 22 years ago Kolasa took over when that employee retired, and decided to donate to charity.

He chose the Christmas Hamper, and considers it a great cause.

“They do a really good job of supporting people in the community,” he said. “And they’re all volunteers, so it’s all going to people in need.”

Kolasa also took scrap metal where he could to beef up the donation. This year, he pitched in $800 of his own funds, to make the last cheque a big one.

He estimates the mill’s metals resulted in a combined donation of $30,000 over the years. Bates said it was one of the more regular sources of funding for the society.

With the mill closing, Kolasa was near enough to retirement that he decided “it’s time.”

He said his co-workers who are young and skilled have been able to find new jobs, although some have had to leave the city. Others who are older are having a tougher time finding employment, he said.

“I know some people who are struggling. For people in their 50s it’s not easy,” he said.

“You cannot replace those jobs. It’s the end of an era – everyone thought that place would be there forever.”



Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge seniors honoured in novel ways for Seniors’ Week

Traditional gatherings are out, but local seniors groups wanted to mark the occasion

LETTER: Most take on healthcare to save lives, not get more money

Reader disturbed by call local person’s call for hazard pay during COVID

LETTER: Different view questions mandated social distancing

Look at the science behind herd immunity versus current approach to curtailing COVID

LETTER: Verbal attack on foreign workers disturbing

Racist and derogatory comments on social media disheartening and disappointing to Maple Ridge native

LETTER: How about a fashion contest for COVID face gear

Not trying to make light of the pandemic, but how about a community competition, no age limit

VIDEO: Injured bald eagle rescued in B.C. First Nations community

Bird suspected injured in fight, whisked off to Coquitlam rehab

Facing changes together: Your community, your journalists

Thanks for helping The News to continue its mission to provide trusted local news

Human Rights Tribunal denies church’s request to toss out White Rock Pride Society’s complaint

Star of the Sea and White Rock Pride Society to go to Human Rights Tribunal hearing

B.C.’s Central Kootenay region declares state of emergency, issues evacuation orders

The evacuation alert covers all areas except the Cities of Castelgar and Nelson

‘I’m afraid’: Witnesses of wolf attack on senior near Prince Rupert worried about safety

Frank Russ shows where the unprovoked wolf attacked his father

Protesters prepare to rally against racism in front of Vancouver Art Gallery

Rally is in response to the deaths of black Americans and a Toronto woman

Protesters rally against anti-black, Indigenous racism in Toronto

Police estimated the crowd to be between 3,500 and 4,000 and said there was no violence

Feds earmark $1.5M to support recovery of B.C., Indigenous tourism

B.C. money will be split between Vancouver Island and Indigenous tourism

‘We’re sick of it’: Anger over police killings shatters U.S.

Tens of thousands marched to protest the death of George Floyd

Most Read