Hundreds of empties

Julie Garmon, left, and her husband Ben Arvelin, co-owners of the Beacon Restaurant in Pier 61, load hundreds of empty cans and bottles to take to the Beer Store for recycling. They have been donating all the money from the return of the empties to Pro Kids.

Julie Garman and Ben Arvelin, owners of the Beacon restaurant in Pier 61, have found a way to support a youth-centred group while disposing empty bottles and cans.

The pair in Thunder Bay donated nearly $2,000 to Pro Kids since last August by turning over the money they receive from recycling their empty cans and bottles accumulated through their business.

“My dad used to run tournaments and fundraising events for Pro Kids . . . and I wanted to do something in his honour so since we took over this bar, we’ve been donating all of our empties to Pro Kids, 100 per cent,” he said.

Arvelin says there are so many organizations that could use the money such as Shelter House Thunder Bay, but he said it was his father, Bill Arvelin’s work with Pro Kids that inspired him to continue with this organization.

“It’s kind of a generation thing because Pro Kids helped me out when I was a kid and helped my nephews out to play hockey, now I’m in the position to give back to Pro Kids,” he said. “I figure that would be the ideal for me now.”

Arvelin says he is aware that there is alcohol sales involved with this gesture and it becomes sensitive when the funds are going toward a children’s organization, but he would like to see more bars jump on board and use the disposable money toward a charitable organization of their choice.

Meanwhile, the Beacon and Pier 61 are closed due to the code grey lockdown, which was reinstated by the provincial government this week, but Arvelin says business will return to full swing when the lockdown, protective measures and COVID-19 risks are behind.

The establishments were open prior to the lockdown with a limited number of people allowed inside as far back as July.

Around August, they worked with the Cumberland Street Beer Store who forwards the money to Pro Kids and gives a tax receipt to Arvelin and Garman for tax purposes.

“We do a run every week and it was usually about $200 to $300, give or take,” he said. “Eventually, when we start opening and when we are able to have maximum capacity in my bar . . . you will see my numbers soar.”