Winnipeg missions are gearing up for the Easter season.
Free meals for the underprivileged are being served this weekend by three different Winnipeg missions: Siloam, Union Street Gospel and the Salvation Army.
The celebration of Easter will go beyond a turkey meal at the Siloam Mission. The sit-down dinner is slated for Good Friday at noon, but there will be activities throughout the day.
"When you have a meal with your family, you don't just eat and leave," said Lindsay Smith, director of volunteer services.
"(Patrons can) sit upstairs as long as they want to chill out and be with family and friends and with our volunteers, to build that community and have a nice Easter."
Siloam doesn't need more volunteers to help prepare and serve their Easter meal, but they'd love to see more people come out and help other days throughout the year. The Manitoba Realtors Association is helping organize the meal and members will serve 50 donated turkeys.
Those non-holiday days are busy, too, for all the city's missions.
A fact sheet recently provided by the University of Winnipeg estimates there are about 350 people currently living on city streets. Nearly 2,000 more are living in short-term or crisis shelters, and thousands more are at risk of becoming homeless.
The Salvation Army has been serving Easter dinner in Winnipeg for more than 125 years.
Jonathan Hamel, spokesman for the organization, said staff and volunteers work hard to provide a warm, safe place so patrons can enjoy the special meal.
"For a lot of people who don't have shelter or a regular home, it's still important to celebrate the good things in life and to remember the high times and holidays," Hamel said.
"It's a celebration of spring coming about, new life, rebirth and those types of things."
Association president Brian Canart said this is the seventh year the Realtors Care group has run the event, and it's never difficult recruiting volunteers.
The Union Street Gospel Mission works in conjunction with the Siloam Mission when planning what to serve for its Saturday dinner. This year, volunteers will carve up 30 hams at the Princess Street mission.
One holiday dinner has already taken place, with about 450 people eating at the Lighthouse Mission at 669 Main St. this past Saturday.
Rev. Sean Goulet, the mission's executive director, said things went well, but donations of cash and food are accepted on an ongoing basis.
"We're pretty low on meat here," said Goulet. "We depend on it daily for putting in our soup, whether it's ground beef, chicken or turkey."