Archive for December, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Francis

December 30, 2010

We’ll never run out of cardboard centers for the banana boxes we use to pack hampers in when Francis is around! Francis comes in each week to keep on top of breaking down boxes, re-packaging food items, and helping out with whatever task we have in the warehouse. He’s a dedicated and hard-working volunteer with a great sense of humour to match with our fun spirited Friday crew. To date Francis has put in over 1 700 hours volunteering at our program since May of 2002. In this year alone Francis has volunteered for more than 250 hours! After Francis finished telling me another joke he heard over the last week, I spent some time with him to ask him about his volunteer experience and learn a little bit more about this long-term volunteer. (more…)

Volunteer Spotlight: John

December 29, 2010

John does well to make his presence known when he’s here to volunteer, whether he’s sparking up conversations when he packs hampers, or saying hello to everyone when he comes in. John’s enthusiasm is easy to see while he’s here. And he’s been here and there sporadically helping out whenever needed throughout the last few years. Though we haven’t always been able to track the hours that he supports our program, we know that over the course of the last six months he has volunteered over 70 hours! This includes doing odd jobs in the warehouse, packing hampers, or helping out at the Volunteer Party. Whatever activity John seems to take on, he does so with a keen spirited attitude!  (more…)

Christmas Hamper Success

December 24, 2010

Welcome to the Christmas Hamper Program.

I can hardly believe how quickly the last couple of weeks have flown by. It seems like only yesterday that I was sorting through mail at the Christmas Bureau and anticipating the excitement that occurs with the Christmas Hamper program. I didn’t know then just how massive an undertaking the Christmas Hamper program is, and how amazing our community is for responding to a need and making this project happen.

So the Christmas Hamper program has come to a close. If you haven’t already guessed, it’s been a whirlwind! The official numbers are in, and this year was yet another record breaker. With over 3,875 hampers delivered, 10,250 people in Kitchener-Waterloo received food, hope and compassion this Christmas season. In addition to these hampers, we also distributed 3,000 turkeys and 500 hams. (more…)

Intake process: referrals

December 20, 2010

Today I would like to add a few things to Melissa’s blog post (here) about some of the ways people can get additional help from other organizations in the region.

First of all I would like to mention that we are one of the busiest programs in the region and also probably most of Ontario. Last year was the busiest year in the history of House of Friendship, with over 33000 emergency food hampers going to 9959 households. In total over 22000 people shared the food in our hampers.  This year has been busy as well, and so far we have been giving out an average of 134 hampers a day, Monday to Friday.

Each day, these average 130+ families come in and go through our fairly brief intake process.  To recap on Melissa’s post, basically we need to know your name, birth date and address to register you in our database. We want to make sure when a person walks into our program they don’t leave empty handed.  We don’t ask for proof of income, but for statistical reasons we do ask what their source of income is. Trust is a very important part of the process.

Sometimes people are frustrated and since they are going through some rough times, they don’t feel comfortable sharing information about their current life situation and what they are going through. That is why our program made the registering process as straight forward and helpful as possible.  The main way we offer help, other than food that is, is through referrals. (more…)

Volunteer Spotlight: Oscar

December 17, 2010

For the last six years many people have received a food hamper thanks to the hamper packing skills of Oscar. Oscar is so dedicated to the idea of volunteering that his first shift here was on his birthday! You’d barely guess that he’s turning 72 years old this year, since he’s got the energy of a 20-year-old! In his time here he’s provided us with more than 1 600 hours of assistance, with almost 200 of those hours being this year alone! But Oscar does more than just pack hampers and keep busy in the warehouse; he also encourages his friends to come in to volunteer when he knows we’re short on help. He’s just an incredible help to our program and I hope you enjoy learning just a few facts about this wonderful volunteer! (more…)

Christmas Hampers in the news (some clarifications)

December 10, 2010

The only way that we as an organization can succeed is through the strength of the relationships we have with the community.  A recent Record Article (here) highlights the power of relationships and the positive change they can make on a local level through volunteering at the Christmas Hamper Program and helping out with the Rotary Club Turkey Drive.

As John, our Executive Director, points out in this video (here) someones’ loss affects us all because we are all connected.  As you can see, (here) the community is mobilizing to help make sure that everyone has some joy on Christmas day as the Christmas Hamper warehouse is now filled with food and volunteers packing hampers and getting ready to deliver them.

Reading the Record article may be a little confusing however.  Here are a few points that hopefully will clear up any questions you may have. (more…)

A Day in Santa’s Mailroom

December 9, 2010

Where tables and chairs were once left empty, the conference room at Charles Village is now full, festive and busy. Boxes marked “Food Only,” “Food and Toys,” and “Toys Only,” are collecting piles of applications, while employees and volunteers work to sort through more and more as they come with each new delivery of the mail.

This is a typical day at the Christmas Bureau which operates to coordinate all the people, food and toys that are involved with Christmas assistance. It’s the bureau that makes the Christmas Hamper Program such a success each year  (read an earlier blog post here for more info on the Program). Recently,  I had the opportunity to help at the bureau, sorting through applications and entering them into a database, and it was an awesome experience! I must admit that I felt a little like an elf in Santa’s mailroom as I sorted through the applications. (more…)

Holiday Season events to help end hunger

December 2, 2010

Yesterday I blogged (here) about the Christmas Hamper Program and how you can help the House of Friendship and Salvation Army make a difference this December. But donating food can involve more fun than filling a paper bag full of supplies.

As you may remember from our previous posts on this blog, the Emergency Food Hamper Program and the Christmas Hamper Program get the majority of their food from an other organization: the Food Bank of Waterloo Region.  This Holiday Season, there are many different community events coming up where Food Bank representatives will be present to accept food and monetary donations. Supporting the Food Bank will go a long way to ensuring we and the many other food programs in the region can meet the needs of the people coming to us for help. (A little fuzzy on the difference between House of Friendship and the Food Bank?  read here to clear it up). So take your children or friends out to have a great time at one of the many events to come:

  • Drop off a donation to the Center in the Square while you’re there to see a performance, or if it’s close to your home. Donation bins will be placed in their lobby area during the month of December.
  • Purchase an “Extra Helpings” food bag from any Loblaws, Zehrs, Valu-Marts, No Fills, Great Canadian Superstore, and the Great Canadian Wholesale Club during November 26-December 16th. You’ve probably seen the paper bags advertised near the front registers filled with canned goods that are passed on, along with the other items left in the donation bins, to the Food Bank to be distributed. Or there is always the option to purchase a few extra items during your regular grocery trips to place in the donation bins, which are located near the Customer Service area in most grocery stores.
  • Visit Christmas Fantasy at the Victoria Park Clock Tower on December 2nd at 5:00 pm – 5:45 pm. This is the opening ceremony for the lights that are displayed in the park on the trees, buildings and bridges until early January. There will be free crafts for children, hot chocolate, horse-drawn carriage rides, and Food Bank representatives collecting food or monetary donations.
  • Participate in the “Stuff-a-bus” campaign on December 10th-12th at the Laurentian Power Center Zehrs, which is near the intersection of Ottawa St S and Homer Watson in Kitchener. Volunteers will be collecting donations of food in hopes to try to fill a city bus full of non-perishable food items.

Hopefully one of these many events has caught your interest or will fit into your schedule. These events are typically a lot of fun, and contribute to a helpful cause. But also feel free to stay in touch with the Food Banks calendar of upcoming events, which you can find on their website. You’ll learn about a lot of great festival and activities that occur throughout the year at a low-cost with a high yield of fun!

Holiday fun and food is just around the corner!

December 1, 2010

Many people have been coming by our program over the last few weeks to inquire about the Christmas hamper program. Some of these patrons are stopping by to drop off the application form that was mailed in their social assistance cheques at the end of October. While others are here to provide us with their information and identification so that we can assist them in completing the application at our location. Either way both of these groups have something in common: their low income leaves them short of food for the holidays. (more…)