Local woman cooks for community

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Annita Gray defines a hero as "somebody who is always looking out for somebody else and putting others first before themselves. They don't care if they get recognized for it, they just want it to happen." Photo by Nikolai Karpinski.


BELLEVILLE – 62-year-old Annita Gray has spent the past five years volunteering her time year-round making free meals for those who need it.

Gray helps prepare and cook at the Salvation Army for its free food programs. She says her favourite part about volunteering there is "the atmosphere. It's a really nice place, everybody gets along and they try to help. It's easy to work here."

Aside from cooking three days a week, Gray also helps prepare donated food from local farmers during the summer.

"We process the food and fill the freezers up for the winter time," she says.

Gray began volunteering with the Salvation Army shortly after her retirement from the Sears head office in Toronto. There she worked on store planning for 33 years.

"When they brought computers into the office I was one of the first that learned to use desktops, so that tells you how old I am," says Gray.

A Belleville native, Gray lived in Toronto until 2004 when she sold her house and moved back to the area to look after her parents. For the last five years at Sears she commuted by train to Toronto.

"Oh ya it was long days, the trains weren't that fast. Via needs to improve those services," says Gray about her time commuting from Belleville.

Gray enjoys gardening during her free time. She says that every year she applies for a vegetable garden plot in the city's Community Gardens. She also helps her mom, June Gray, with their garden at home.

"I stay with my mom to make sure things get done, especially outside. She can't do it with the walkers and canes," says Annita.

The volunteer cook also enjoys to read in her spare time. She prefers light reading in the mystery genre and says her favourite author is Iris Johansen.






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