Posts Tagged ‘pitch in’

Day 11: Pitching In with a gift

December 20, 2011

“Please don’t forget me.”

This is what a woman said to me on the phone last week.  She was one of the many people who were concerned that her Christmas Food Hamper would not be delivered and that somehow her name had gotten lost.

Uncertainty and doubt is a common sight for many non-profit organizations.  Where will my next meal come from? Will I overcome my illness? Will I lose in my struggle with this addiction? I can’t pay my rent this month, will I get evicted?

How do we answer these questions?  With the giving spirit and kindness of volunteers many of them will receive the right answer.  Yes, here is some food. Yes, we will walk with you on your road to recovery.  Yes, we will find you the resources and ensure that you stay housed.

On the other side of the coin, people at this time of year, are swept up in the spirit of giving and wonder where to direct their gifts.   It can be a hard to decide.  There are many needs, many organizations and many causes all asking for your support.  Who should you help?  How will you ensure that the families who need help can get some?

One place you can start is your phone book yellow pages.  What are your interests?  Do you like animals?  Where is the local animal shelter? It is very likely they will always need your help with money, volunteering or gifts in kind. Does someone in your family have an addiction they are struggling with?  There are probably treatment programs in your area that could use your help.

Another great place to start to find the contact information for a non-profit in need of assistance is 211 (more info from our blog here and from their website here) or locally, the Community Information Centre, operated in KW by the Social Planning Council.

If you’re interested in helping programs and agencies that work with people’s immediate needs the Community Information Centre has a handy resource on their website.  It’s a listing of places that help with immediate needs (here) like hospitals, emergency shelters for men, women and youth; as well as programs that assist with food.  They also have a listing of some of the key programs that help with other needs (here) like legal advice, counselling, housing and clothing.

This can be a quick start to finding the right place for you, if you are looking donate.  But maybe you want to learn more about the organization before you write the cheque? You can give them a call and ask them some questions, or you can look them up on the Canada Revenue Agencies website (here), where you can find out more about their financial details and operations.  Most organizations will have an annual report that they will be happy to send you, or you can even find it on their website  (our’s is here).

Non-profits depend on donations to do their work.  If you are not able to make a financial contribution, consider your closets and basement and attic.  You may have some new or gently used clothing, furniture, books, dishes or toys that may delight and make a huge difference to someone in need.  However, consider your intended recipient before driving a truck load of stuff over.  Now is a busy season and many people are in a similar mindset to your own.  It’s hard to help others when you’re up to your neck in bags of clothing, and it’s heartbreaking to have to throw something out because it was left on your doorstep over the weekend and is now waterlogged, falling apart and filthy after getting rained on.  If you have the space to hold onto it, maybe they would appreciate it sometime in the new year?

Every little bit helps.  Even if it’s a set of mugs that you never really needed, or ten spare dollars that you have to share.  It all gets put to use, helping others, and ensuring that they are not forgotten, now, or any other time, the rest of the year.

Soup for the soul – pitching in to help volunteers help others

December 11, 2011

Today may be Sunday for you, but for us at House of Friendship, it’s day 2 of 12days, during which volunteers deliver Christmas food hampers and distribute turkeys to families in need.  The Christmas Hampers Warehouse is quiet today, but tomorrow it will be in full swing, packing and shipping Christmas food hampers.

Because it is Sunday, I want to highlight a very important way that many people in our community, of many different faiths,  support the work of Christmas Hamper Volunteers as they share the gift of food with our neighbours in need.

Each year, for many years now, different faith groups choose a day that Christmas Hampers are being packed in our Christmas Warehouse and prepare a delicious soup lunch for the hardworking volunteers working on the assembly line.  This is always a highlight of the day, and an important way of supporting the people who give up their time and a lot of their energy to help others.

One volunteer with the groups told us, “I know the importance of always, in formal and informal ways, appreciating and thanking our volunteers.  Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.  Feeding them during a shift is just one small way of showing our thanks and appreciation for their time and efforts.”

For others, there is a powerful spiritual message in the labours of the volunteers, as another group member shared with us that, “The Christmas Hampers that are distributed by House of Friendship are a wonderful incarnation of the spirit and meaning of Christmas, of the generosity of God’s gift at Christmas. And as I believe Dickens said, it is at Christmas when human wants and needs are most keenly felt.  So of course we must support the Christmas Food Hampers!!!”

What is the reward for making soup for 30 or 40 people?  We asked the groups for some suggestions and recipes and our friends at Erb St. Mennonite Church told us, “Even though one person could prepare the soup, it is a time of fellowship and sharing for several people to assemble on the evening before the soup making day and prepare all the ingredients. It is a community building event for us.  It is one link in the chain that binds our faith community with the broader community. We can show our support for the work of House of Friendship in a tangible way.”

As these volunteers show us, if you are wondering where to start pitching in to help others, look no further than your own faith community.   There are always many different ways to help your community and others in need.

House of Friendship offers heartfelt thanks to everyone involved in our many programs.  At this time of year especially, your efforts to pitch in and make a difference are an inspiration to us all.

But we can’t leave a post about sharing soup with others without sharing in turn a recipe.  So with thanks to our many volunteers (both serving and receiving) here you go!

Corn Chowder Soup for Thirty:

  • Start with a big pot or caldron
  • Fry two pounds bacon (chopped)
  • Add a 3-lb bag of onions, chopped
  • Cook until onions are transparent.
  • Add two large bags frozen corn.
  • Add two liters chicken stock, six to eight liters half and half, or milk, or any combination thereof.
  • Add salt & pepper to taste, and generous amounts of Italian Seasoning Mix.
  • When the soup is hot (but not boiling), slowly add one large box of instant mashed potatoes to thicken.

Enjoy! And remember to share with us your stories and comments on how you pitch in.

100 hampers with Oscar and 12 days of pitching in!

December 10, 2011

Today is the first of 12days!  12days of delivering Christmas Hampers and handing out turkeys to families in need.   Oscar is one of the people who will be delivering Christmas Hampers.   He and the 600 other people who will pitch in are incredible people with incredible stories.  More than a few have been with us for 25 years and others take time off work to help out over the month of December.

If you’re looking at this on Saturday, Oscar will be busy delivering hampers as you read this sentence.  When I spoke with him earlier at House of Friendship’s Emergency Food Hamper warehouse, he talked about his very ambitious goal of delivering 100 Christmas Hampers in the next 7 days. Last Friday he was getting an early start and heading to HOF’s Christmas Hamper Warehouse for his first load.  Saturday, he was hoping to delivery 25 before the end of the day. He is a man with a plan!

In the first three years Oscar estimates that he delivered approximately 70 hampers each year. Last year he made a goal to beat that number – and he did that by delivering about 90 hampers! However, this year Oscar is taking his personal challenge one step further with the hope to deliver over 100 hampers! That’s a lot of routes for long time volunteer Trevor to coordinate, but Oscar will do all of these with a smile!

Volunteering with Christmas Hampers is a lot of fun for Oscar, because he’s usually joined by groups of friends or his wife. But it’s not all about spending time with friends; Oscar values volunteering with Christmas Hampers more than that: “Helping out gives me a chance to deliver food that people wouldn’t otherwise have for the Holidays. It’s almost as if you’re bringing them a Christmas present.”

People are genuinely appreciative when someone delivers a Christmas hamper, similar to what you may see here at our program. But everyone reacts differently; sometimes people invite you in for coffee and others barely want to open the door. And sometimes you almost get a parking ticket for your vehicle hanging over the sidewalk when it’s snowing late at night and you’re struggling to make sure you have the right address.

In the end you never know what to expect when you’re out delivering Christmas hampers, but all the smiles in the end are what keep Oscar volunteering year after year. Thank you for your support – it would definitely be hard to do all these hampers without your hard work!

Now that you know how Oscar is pitching in for 12days, let us know how you are pitching in.  Send us your stories and comments – help us spread the word: PitchIn for 12days!  You can also follow us on Twitter and find out more about 12days! on our Facebook Page, YouTube channel and web site.