There is no doubt that Calgarians are resilient. Even though we face tough economic times right now, we will surely see better days. Through the floods, drop in oil prices and thousands unemployed, Calgarians always step up and show their sense of community. Proof that no one needs to go it alone.
For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you cared for me…
Inspired by HOPE worldwide’s 25th Anniversary video, the Calgary Chapter chose to model our volunteer activities around Matthew 25. The 2016 video shares, “Let the scriptures paint the picture; as we use them as guides, to apply them to our lives.” Heading in to our chapter’s third year, the meaning of bringing hope and changing lives has never meant so much to our volunteers. We are just getting started!
We Fed Them
The Calgary Food Bank is the first line of emergency food support for families and individuals facing crisis. Over the last five years they’ve seen consistent numbers of people who access their services. Week after week they continue to see new faces.
Every month our volunteers eagerly attend our Tuesday evening shift at the Food Bank to unpack pallets and create food hampers for those in need. In only a couple hours we can help as many as 800 people. In 2018, our volunteers successfully sorted and packed 94,600 lbs of food and impacted the lives of 6,732 people accessing the Calgary Food Bank.
In addition to the Calgary Food Bank, our chapter also supported the Veterans Association Food Bank. After reports that the Veterans Food Bank would close in January 2019 due to a lack of food on the shelves and consistent pleas to the public, it closed suddenly months earlier than expected. Shortly after, a group of veterans came together to support their brothers in arms, creating a veterans for veterans emergency food bank called the Veterans Association Food Bank. Their website read, “Sadly over 2,500 Canadian Armed Forces veterans are living on the streets of Canada. Homelessness is a major issue facing our Canadian veterans and no one that has stood on guard for Canada should go hungry”.
Inspired by these veterans, the Calgary Chapter took up a collection of food and donations to support their efforts. For several weeks leading up to Remembrance Day, we gathered nearly 400 lbs of food which we delivered to the new Food Bank on November 12th.
We Invited Them In
There are a number of resources available in Calgary for any family in need. However, in a large system limited resources can can only go so far. Sometimes it’s the small, personal gestures that makes the biggest impact. A smile says a thousand words and, just like the ear to ear grin on the faces of the three children attending their first Rocky Mountain Church of Christ (RMCOC) Christmas Banquet, no words were necessary.
RMCOC holds an annual Christmas Banquet where, like every good potluck, members bring platter upon platter of food, creating an impressive traditional Christmas buffet. More food than can possibly be consumed fills the tables and each year much of the food is leftover.
This year, in collaboration with RMCOC our chapter arranged for a single mom and her children to join the banquet. They ate, they danced, they received gifts from Santa, lined their pockets with treats, and eagerly raced around the room to experience everything.
“To the HOPE worldwide Canada foundation that supported my family with the gift cards and a beautiful dinner, I would like to say a big thank you! I hope you know what a great kindness you have shown me and my family. We will be forever thankful to you, for you have given us the gift of hope. Thank-you!” Banquet Family
As their mother watched her children she said, “We’re so glad to be here. I’ve eaten more tonight than I’ve eaten all week.” It was a pleasure to welcome them into our family and a blessing to send them home with full bellies and big smiles.
We Clothed Them
The Children’s Cottage Society is dedicated to preventing harm and neglect to children and building strong families through support services, respite programs and crisis nurseries. The Crisis Nursery provides seventy-two hours of cost-free care for children under the age of eight, while helping their families quickly remediate their crisis.
The nursery is meant to feel like a home away from home for these children and they often leave with the clothes they are given. In partnership with the Auburn Bay Community Association, our chapter held a clothing drive in December to help replenish the Crisis Nursery’s closet.
For a second year, our chapter also supported Inn from the Cold who provides support for homeless children and their families. Each year they host an event called Santa’s Workshop where children and their parents can shop for one another’s Christmas presents. Our volunteers provide stockings full of warm mitts, toques, socks, toiletries and small toys. This year we were able to help fifty families celebrate Christmas.
“Santa’s Gift Shop was a hit! And your stockings saved the day! We were able to ensure everyone got something with your stockings so thank you very much!” Meg Kominek, Inn from the Cold
We Cared For Them
Bethany Care Centre provides a range of senior housing and care options, from independent living to supportive living, long-term care, specialized dementia care and community services. The Care Centre is also home to one of RMCOC’s senior members.
More than 24 of our volunteers gathered in the hall of the Bethany Care Centre to carol for their staff and residents. It brightened the day for many of the seniors as well as our volunteers.
There is nothing more fulfilling than the work we’ve done as a chapter and we are grateful for the opportunity to serve our fellow Calgarians. We’re looking forward to 2019!