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'Gilligan's Island' ship still makes a big impact

Rob MacKay, marketing director of Quality Foods, hangs out of the 'SS Minnow' on Wednesday. Photograph By Aaron Hinks/Daily News


The SS Minnow and members of Vancouver Island's Quality Foods grocery store chain have raised $15,000 for the Nanaimo & District Hospital Foundation.


The boat that was made famous for running aground on the shore of an uncharted desert isle in the classic 1960s comedy Gilligan's Island is currently owned by Ken Schley, one of the owners of the Quality Foods.


The $15,000 was raised at the recent Vancouver Boat Show where people were given the opportunity to come aboard the boat that spawned the popular television program.


Quality Foods has long been a supporter of the foundation, which raises funds for the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital and other health facilities in the region, and has donated more than $230,000 since 1995, mostly through its endowment fund.


Foundation president and CEO Maeve O'Byrne said the financial support for the foundation by Quality Foods over the years is "incredibly important."


She said the donations have helped in almost every healthcare facility that the foundation supports in the mid­Island region. O'Byrne said it has yet to be determined where the new money from Quality Foods will be allocated.


Rob MacKay, director of marketing for Quality Foods, said people would be "hard­pressed" to find any person in the area who has not had to use local health care facilities at some point in their lives.


"It's important for both our staff and customers to support the health­care system on Vancouver Island," MacKay said. "It's a great system and we're committed to helping it as much as we can."


The SS Minnow, which is the actual boat used for the opening scenes of Gilligan's Island in which the boat leaves the dock and ends up in high seas, has been in local waters for almost 20 years. It was purchased by Schley in 1996 and had to undergo extensive renovations to restore the boat to its original condition.


It has been used for promotions for Quality Foods ever since, including appearances at Nanaimo's annual Great International World Championship Bathtub Race. 250­729­4234


© Nanaimo Daily News