Kris Wowk might officially be a sandwich artist at Subway, but in his downtime, he’s helping his family organize paper bag lunches for homeless people in Winnipeg.
"I would hope that if I were homeless, people would donate," he says. "I think it’s great my parents are doing this, it’s good to be a part of it."
Ken and Shirley Wowk, their five biological children and the two they are in the process of adopting, have a new tradition of spending every second Saturday making bagged lunches for Main Street Project, a downtown homeless shelter.
The St. James family was inspired by the Lunches With Love campaign organized by the Unrau family, a Charleswood family that also takes paper bag lunches to different homeless shelters in Winnipeg.
Shirley initially heard about Lunches With Love through Facebook and decided it was something she wanted to get involved with. She and Ken volunteered for one lunch-making weekend with the Unraus, and helped deliver the lunches to the people at Main Street Project.
After actually seeing people eating the lunches the group had made, Ken was hooked, and Food For Hope was born.
"I’ve always known about homelessness," he says. "But to be in front of it, it’s a different experience. More real. We took down 340 lunches, and it didn’t take long for them to go."
But it’s not just the older members of the Wowk family who are excited to make lunches.
"We should help people," says Robby, 10 who attends Athlone School. "And I like making sandwiches — it’s fun."
For Kayla, 21, Food For Hope is a way of showing appreciation for what she has. "It’s a way of giving back, and helping out. And making sandwiches is easy."
Food For Hope had its first sandwich making day on Sat., March 9. Although they set the goal of making 200 lunches, several volunteers from around the community helped them end up with a grand total of 219 lunches.
But to continue with that number of sandwiches every second week, the group needs donations.
It takes about 20 loaves of bread, 200 eggs, and 100 cans of tuna to make the sandwiches.
And that’s not counting extra things like the fruit, granola bars and mayonnaise which are also important.
Ken’s carpet cleaning business, Family Carpets, is donating 10% of profits from the month of March towards Food For Hope.
"Our family isn’t rich, but we’re not destitute," he says. "We want to do what we can."
The Wowks also encourage people to bring boxes to their workplaces to collect items like cans of tuna and fruit that can be donated together at the end of the week.
For more information or to donate, visit Food For Hope on Facebook.