Our volunteers go the distance

by

One of the single most rewarding parts of being at the House of Friendship is working beside the hundreds of amazing volunteers who come to help us and others each and every day of the year.  At the beginning of September we took a moment to relax and celebrate their achievements in style thanks to Knox Presbyterian Church who opened their space to us and let us set up some BBQ’s to grill some tasty food.

We couldn’t have done it without Boston Pizza, Canadian Tire, The Cake Box, Future Shop, Galaxy Cinemas, Max’s Golf, the Perimeter Institute, Princess Cafe, Starbucks, The Museum, Walmart, Waterloo Region Museum, Whole-lota Gelata, and CIBC who all generously gave their own thanks for the work our volunteers do by donating raffle prizes.

At the Food Hamper Program volunteers are the single biggest reason why we are able to do what we do.  So far this year, they have been the driving force behind the 25,731 hampers that we have shared so far.  Throughout our long history in the community (since 1958 as an official program) we have never shared this many hampers in the first nine months of the year.  The last six months were very busy and we consistently came close to, or exceeded, service records throughout the spring and summer.  The cooler fall weather, seems to have brought with it a bit of a rest however, and we have not been as busy so far in September as we usually are.  What will happen in the winter is not clear, since it is historically, one of our busier times.

So what does 25,731 hampers look like?  What does 25,000 of anything look like?  One way to think about it is this way:

To put a hamper together, our volunteers walk in a loop around a series of shelves, tables and coolers.  The entire track is about 20 meters in all.  The actual distance our volunteers have to walk to put the hamper together is often longer, because they will need to find a special item elsewhere in the warehouse for a special diet, they may need to meet with the person to clarify something about their diet or do an emergency restocking of something that has run out.  But, for the sake of simplicity, lets assume it’s just 20 meters.  So, 20 meters multiplied by 25, 731 hampers is 514,620 meters, or 514 kilometers (320 miles).

So, our volunteers have walked over 500 kilometers in the last nine months to get food into the homes of some of our most vulnerable neighbours.  500 kilometers is a few hours driving in a car, but by coincidence, it is also approximately (at least according to Google) the distance to Ottawa.  Or, the same as walking from our warehouse in Kitchener to Queens Park in Toronto and back about five times over.

If our volunteers decided to walk that far they would have many stories to share along the way.  Stories about tears over receiving food, about stress filled afternoons trying to fill the gaps and the heart felt thank-yous they get for spending their time in the service of others.

Why not take a minute and get acquainted with a few of our volunteers here.  As you will see they’re an amazing group and we are always inspired by the depth of their concern for others and their generosity of spirit.  It is truly humbling to see them in action.

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