Archive for the ‘Christmas Hampers’ Category

Charity, Solidarity, and the Holiday Season, part two

February 5, 2015

Today’s post is the second in a three part series about the complicated relationships between charitable giving and the work of charitable organizations, especially during the holiday season. 

Our guest blogger Luke discusses below his own frustrating experiences of being caught in the middle of charitable giving without relationship, and other ways in which charitable work makes real solidarity difficult to realize.

The holiday season is now behind us. This is too bad, because for many of us November and December are the months when we donate to those in need, when we seem especially aware of injustice, pain, and suffering in our communities. It’s also an occasion to reflect on the relationships between giving, justice, and the ways we contribute—or don’t—to unequal societies.

I was fortunate enough to work as a truck driver for an organization that supports street-involved youth in one of Canada’s biggest cities. My job at this time of year was busy, but extremely rewarding. Food, clothing, toys and furniture were donated en masse. Our organization, and, more importantly, the street-youth we supported, depended on the generosity of the community–the Christmas rush. And, every so often, the “Christmas rush” created opportunities for interactions between rich and poor.

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You Are Only One Google Search Away…

December 25, 2014
There is a global need for help - The House of Friendship of Kitchener sees many international connections

via Flickr

“I was claiming income support as I live in a hostel and am only 17, but they stopped it 3 weeks ago and I have no food left and as it’s so close to Christmas I’m starting to panic, is there any way you can help me please?”

The world is a big place but connected in surprising ways.

We receive many calls (or e-mails) for help, especially during the holiday season. Because of the global reach of the internet, some of those inquiries come from people who do not realize that we are -literally- on the other side of the planet.

The young person I’m quoting above emailed us from Europe.  This year I also received emails from as far away as Australia, and, within Canada, from British Columbia.

Thanks to the power of the internet, I am often able to quickly find a place to refer someone back to in their own community.  A place they no doubt overlooked in their frantic struggle to find food and other help, because, as we know from our work in this community each day, food is often the last of many needs that people struggle to meet.

So as we reflect back on the experience of Christmas Hampers and our year of work, meeting people from our community who had no food, it is sobering to remember that this small part of the world is not alone in its struggle to build a community where all can belong and thrive.

There is still much to do in 2015.

 

50 Years of Sharing in Our Community

December 1, 2014

Since 1964 House of Friendship has been sharing the gift of food with its neighbours in need during the Holiday Season. A great many people have, over the years, been the specific parts of House of Friendship, doing the specific work involved in making sure folks in our community get Christmas hampers and toys.

Tony is one of the many dedicated Christmas hamper workers, whose steady and ongoing commitment to the Program keep it running smoothly, and growing!

His first experience with the Christmas Hamper Program was in 1977.

9 - Tony

Service, in style, as always.

 

“I think back then it was in the basement of a store on Krug Street. That year we maybe gave out about 800 hampers. Linda Worth was directing things, she was the only staff person, at the time she was the director of the Hostel, and Live and Learn. House of Freindship was pretty small at that point. At the time I joined other volunteers in delivering food. Volunteers were and continue to be the main reason why things get done here.”

A few years later, Tony got a job at House of Friendship after graduating from the University of Waterloo and was once again involved in Christmas Hampers on the staff side of things. Over 35 years later he is still here and each year has the privilege and challenge of setting up and running the program with a team of volunteers and staff. (more…)

Where Will You Go, If You Walk With Others In Our Community?

November 28, 2014

“House Of Friendship remains committed to working with our community and walking with our most vulnerable members to ensure we pursue long-term solutions to homelessness, poverty, addictions, and mental health.”

John Neufeld, HOF Executive Director


Welcome to my walk with House of Friendship, my name is Marie Morneau.

My walk started some 13 years ago when my daughter Rosemarie started to volunteer at the Kingsdale Community Centre. Back then we were in portables, not the big beautiful building we have now!

Six years ago my husband Denis and I started to help by volunteering at Kingsdale, on Wednesdays. Denis drives the van to the Food Bank and brings back a load of food to Kingsdale, where we repack it and put it away. On Thursday we take that food and set it up for distribution between 1:30 and 3pm for people residing in the Kingsdale area. (more…)

Guest post: support equal access to healthy food!

December 9, 2013

Today is the first day of House of Friendship’s 2013 ’12 Days for Good’ social campaign to pay forward all of the generous volunteer support we receive for Christmas Hampers and Turkey Drive.  If you haven’t checked it out, please do so: www.12daysforgood.com, and count yourself in.

To provide some inspiration, each of the 12 days has a theme. Today, it is Equality.  To HOF this simply means to at all times and in all places, treat each other equally, with impartiality, and to enjoy full equality of opportunity, rights and responsibilities necessary to belong and thrive in our community.

When I think of equality one of the first things that comes to mind is access to food. Candace, a volunteer at HOF’s Emergency Food Hamper program said it best recently, “Food is a basic necessity and there should be no shame in asking for help for it.”  She goes on to say that she believes food is a human right and sees her volunteerism, and the Emergency Food Hamper program, as people helping people help themselves. To me, it’s about giving people the equal opportunity to meet their basic needs; a widening income gap is undermining their access to food.

If you agree, then you’ll be interested to know that Regional Council is currently reviewing its initial budget/funding plans for 2014; specifically, it is considering a draft budget prepared by Regional staff.  That proposal includes a suggestion to cut food hamper funding for this region by more than 50% in 2014, from $700,000 this year to $300,000 next year (this is for the entire food hamper network, including HOF’s Emergency Food Hamper program). Last year, food hamper funding for the Region was cut by 11%. Meanwhile, demand for food assistance across the Region rose by 5%, which resulted in 35,000 people in our community receiving food assistance this past year (1 in 20 Households).

The proposed budget cut to $300,000 would cripple the local food assistance network that has taken years to build and is one of the most effective and innovative in Canada.  House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper program, the largest provider within this network (feeding over 21,000 people annually, 1/3 children), would be devastated, and thousands of families would be adversely effected.

House of Friendship along with fellow local food assistance agencies (Wilmot Family Resource Centre, Woolwich Community Services, Salvation Army, Cambridge Self Help Food Bank, and The Food Bank of Waterloo Region) will be presenting on the proposed funding cut at a Regional Council meeting this Wednesday, December 11th, 6PM at Regional Council Chambers (150 Frederick St., 2nd Flr, Kitchener). 

By the way, December 11th is the third day of HOF’s ’12 days for good’, and the theme just happens to be: ‘Nutrition – to give and receive nourishment, food and sustenance, for stomachs, hearts, minds and spirits.’

 I can think of no better way to live out this theme than to speak up for the individuals and families we serve, who rely on our local food assistance network for their nutrition.

Please join me and HOF on the 11th at Regional Council Chambers, and support access to food and our local food assistance network.

Regards,

John Neufeld

Executive Director

House of Friendship

Volunteer Spotlight: Mike C.

September 16, 2013

Mike C photo

The best sports teams depend on positional players: good pitchers, quarterbacks or goalies. But the same teams also depend on “utility players.” These highly capable men and women play a range of positions at a high level, filling in where needed. Mike C is a superb utility player on the EFHP team, contributing since the day he signed his (volunteer) contract in January 2010. When I tracked him down for this interview he was packing two hampers at the same time—half an hour after he was scheduled to go home for the day. An hour earlier he’d been up to his elbows in cabbage, sorting a big donation.

HOF: How did you hear about House of Friendship?

MC: I started packing Christmas hampers in 2009. From there I learned about the Emergency Food Hamper Program. [Like the EFHP, the Christmas Hamper Program is one of House of Friendship’s “Community Services,” and has provided a gift of food to families and individuals living on low income since 1964.]

HOF: What do you enjoy about volunteering at the EFHP?

MC: Lots of different things. I appreciate and enjoy helping others, and using my free time in a constructive and positive way. I’ve also had plenty of opportunities to develop relationships with volunteers and Program patrons, who come from all walks of life. Working alongside these good and interesting people continues to be rewarding.

HOF: What’s your favourite job at our program?

MC: Everything! [HOF scouts confirm this response.] I enjoy packing hampers, bagging and sorting fruit, and stocking the shelves. Whatever is required that day.

HOF: How has volunteering impacted your life?

MC: I’ve been dealing with a medical condition over the last few years, and volunteering has helped me recover in a number of important ways. I had to take time off work, and coming in to the EFHP has helped me res-establish a normal schedule. By working here I’ve also regained a lot of my strength and endurance, which has been great for me. Finally, my time here has been educational. I’ve learned about the EFHP, but also about the needs in our community. Some days I barely get to sit down, we are so busy meeting those needs.

HOF: Are there any other programs that you are or have volunteered with?

MC: I’ve coached minor hockey in Waterloo four different years, from tykes up to Bantam rep. I grew up playing hockey in Waterloo, and AA baseball.

HOF: What kind of activities or hobbies do you enjoy when you aren’t working or volunteering?

MC: I am an avid sports fan, especially the Blue Jays and Kitchener Rangers. [HOF scouting reports confirm this as well.] I also love playing sports, and in addition to hockey and baseball, I bowl and golf. [I had to ask, but Mike finally admitted that his bowling high score is 356!]

At this point, Mike had to get back to work, and of course I couldn’t keep an All-Star on the bench! Thanks for pitching in whenever and wherever we need you Mike. Your hard work and positive attitude help keep the EFHP team on the right track. We’ve served over 23,000 hampers already this year, and it’s only possible because of volunteers like Mike.

12days of Pitching In

December 21, 2011

It has been an extraordinary 12 days of giving and sharing in Kitchener Waterloo.  Over six hundred volunteers have helped the House of Friendship these last few weeks to move a record number of Christmas Hampers out into the community and into people’s cupboards.

Who are these people? Schools, individuals, businesses, friends and coworkers have collected food, packed it up and driven it out to people.  Others have endured the elements to hand out more than 3000 turkeys and ensure that people have something to share with friends and family as they sit down together this weekend to celebrate each other and to look forward to the coming year.

On this blog we have shared some inspiration, ideas and suggestions on how you can do something big or small to make this region a little nicer for everyone.  We hope that you were moved to action and we would love to hear how it went for you.  Haven’t taken the plunge into volunteering yet?  Why not make it your new years resolution to get out there and volunteer?  There are lots of great places to help you get started.

What good is there in volunteering and the collective efforts of these hundreds of people who have given some, or in some cases, all of their time these last few weeks in the service of others?

Our Executive Director, John, asked these same questions recently.  He shared with us these words:

“We have now finished delivering 4081 “little gifts” in the form of Christmas Hampers.  Delivering these gifts this past week has been an eye-opening experience for me, bringing home the importance of people having appropriate housing, being part of community, accessing addition treatment, and being nourished with food and more.  At the end of the deliveries, I came home with many more questions, and very few answers. What good will this one Christmas Hamper do? What do my efforts matter? Individual efforts can at times seem so futile but when I think about all of our individual efforts combined, I feel hope!”

“My hope is rekindled each time I attend one of our program’s Christmas celebrations.  What a gift to see the transformation of individuals as a result of safe and affordable housing, recovery, life skills training, community building, support with parenting, and a listening ear. So many great stories! Stories that we share with our community to inspire and challenge them to Pitch In and make a difference so that hope can always be present in our community.”

Each day at the many programs of the House of Friendship and the countless non-profit groups that work with people in need, volunteers and hope transform people’s lives.  By sharing tangible goods like food and clothing, or intangible things like a listening year, a caring word and positive attitude you can make a real difference to someone.

Yesterday I spoke with Oscar, who called to update me on his efforts to deliver at least 100 Christmas Hampers.  The last time I had spoken with him, he was already at 125 hampers.  Yesterday he told me he had just finished his 151st delivery.  In response to my words of amazement and congratulation he shared with me “I just program my GPS and drive around and drop them off.  It’s something I really enjoy doing, and when you see how happy people are to receive it, it makes it all worth it.”

If you volunteer, thank you!  Let us know what makes it worthwhile for you on twitter, facebook or the comment space below.  If you’re thinking of volunteering in 2012, what do you hope to get out of it?  As we hope you have seen this last 12 days, it’s easy and it makes a world of difference to everyone in our community.

Good Deeds with Carlos

December 19, 2011

Is is easy to volunteer?  How much of a difference can you make in an hour or two?  Is it worthwhile?

These are all questions that Carlos, a local radio host with 91.5 The Beat, decided to answer.  As we mentioned previously (here) he is out in the community doing a different volunteer job with a different agency each day for 30 days.  This last Saturday was day Deed 23 and he was helping the House of Friendship distribute turkeys

Today is day 10 of our 12Days campaign.  Tomorrow is the final day of turkey distribution and by that time the last of the Christmas Hamper should be safely stashed away in people’s cupboards.  As of this morning, the final count for Christmas Hampers is 4081!  The 600+ volunteers who have helped accomplish this amazing record have touched the lives of thousands of people.   As Carlos demonstrates, you can make a big difference to someone in the space of an hour or two.  This is something that people never forget.

Have you decided to volunteer yet?  Let us know!  Comment, tweet @HOFKW or post on our facebook wall.

Lots of little things during 12days

December 18, 2011

Work at the Christmas Hamper warehouse is quiet for the weekend.  As we start day 9 of the 12day campaign, we can pause to reflect on the frantic week that has just come to a close.

The need for Christmas Hampers has never been this great.  As of Friday, over 4000 hampers had been assembled by our team of volunteers.  They officially wrapped up their efforts on the assembly line with several rounds of applause for the amazing feat they had just completed. More than 3700  hampers had been hand delivered by countless volunteers. After a pause for Saturday and today, the remaining three or four hundred hampers will be delivered on Monday and Tuesday.

Do you remember Oscar? By 2pm Friday afternoon he had dropped of his 125th Christmas  Hamper delivery.  Was he stopping there? No!  His plan is to continue to deliver until the very end. After pausing to consider, he told me, “oh, I’ll probably get up to 145.  We’ll see.  It’s something that I really enjoy… why not?”

Where do you fit in?  Well, there are still lots of little things you can do to make the region a nicer place.  You don’t have to commit as much time as Oscar has, something as small as going out of your way to say hello to a neighbour or complete stranger can make a difference.  Or even taking an minute out of your day to ask if someone needs help if they seem lost can change a persons day.  Do you hold the door open for the parents with their stroller and little ones trying to get into the grocery store when you’re running errands?  It’s the little things that help add up to a big change.

One thing that we all struggle with  is time.  It’s hard to volunteer if you’re short on time.  I have a job, family and other obligations to meet – how can I volunteer?  Just this week we saw an example of someone putting their skills to use to volunteer, indirectly, at the House of Friendship’s Men’s Hostel.

A place for Rooks and Kings to make new friends.

Using his skills and time someone who needed to complete some community service hours made this chess table for the residents of the Men’s Hostel. John, pictured above, said of the table: “this beautiful table…will be a place where friendships and meaningful conversations will take place.”

Give it some thought.  Are there things that you like to do that might benefit others if you shared them?  Sharing them can make a difference to someone.  As we begin the final stretch of our 12days campaign, let us know what hobbies, skills or interests you think might benefit others.  Find us on Facebook, twitter and comment in the space below.  We’d love to hear from you.

Volunteers Pitching In at Christmas Hampers

December 16, 2011

Every December, volunteers pitch in to bag, box and deliver food for those in need of food assistance in our community.  For many, volunteering at House of Friendship’s Christmas Hamper has become an annual holiday tradition.  I had the opportunity to sit down and chat with two volunteers, Trevor and Doug, who have both made volunteering at the Christmas Hamper program an annual tradition.

Both Trevor and Doug started at Christmas Hampers as volunteer drivers, delivering the Christmas hampers, and they have been helping ever since.  Trevor is able to take some vacation time from his full-time job to work as the hamper dispatcher for the Christmas Hamper program, helping to ensure that the food is delivered to the hamper recipients.  Doug has become more and more involved over the years that he’s been volunteering.  Here’s what they had to say about their involvement with the Christmas Hamper program:

How did you start volunteering at Christmas Hampers?

Trevor told me: “I started volunteering at the Christmas Hamper program because of a man named Bruce Weber.  Bruce was heavily involved with House of Friendship, and he happened to be our youth leader.  He arranged to have our youth group deliver hampers.  That was in 1982.   For the first few years, I was mainly just delivering the hampers.  One year, I came in to pick up a route for delivery, but it was really busy, and Tony Bender (the program coordinator) asked me to step in and explain the process to the new volunteer drivers.  From then on, I have been setting people up with routes, and sending them out to do their deliveries.”

Doug explained: “I got involved many years ago when I brought my children with me to deliver hampers.  Every year after that I saw myself getting more and more involved in the project.  I now am here from day one until the program wraps up before Christmas.”

What brings you back year after year?

Trevor said: “I know that my circumstances are privileged.  I have an excellent support system, and I had all the opportunities when I was growing up.  Circumstances make it difficult for some people to get by, and a program like Christmas Hampers, helps people through those difficult times.  I have always felt that I have something to give, so I am doing so.  It is so easy for me to judge those living in poverty, and give up on them, but I think all of us would be surprised at just how hard being without can really be.”

Doug told me: “I believe so much in this project, a community-based project that satisfies a fundamental need for food.  I enjoy the variety of work that needs to be done.  There is something for everyone.  I also like interacting with the groups that come through here, and talking to the media about all the wonderful things that are happening at the Christmas Hamper warehouse.  I think that this is one of the greatest social service projects out there.  I can remember delivering a hamper to a young family, and I will never forget the way the young girl’s face lit up when we came to their door.  Doing the deliveries really helped me put a face to the need that exists in our community.”

These two volunteers are just a very small sample of the many hands that are committed to making the Christmas Hamper program possible.  Interested in joining them?  Give Tony a call at 519-725-2350.  We still really need drivers to help out. Are you already a Christmas Hamper Volunteer?  Let us know what volunteering means to you!  Comment here on our blog, post on our wall on Facebook or tweet at @HOFKW.