Shoppers in St. Vital recently did their part to help members of Winnipeg’s homeless population enjoy an Easter dinner to remember — with a little help from some social networking.
On March 26, Siloam Mission partnered with event sponsor ICUC Moderation Services for a three-hour food drive outside the Sobeys location at Bishop Grandin Boulevard and St. Anne’s Road to help collect food items for the downtown mission’s annual Easter food drive.
One key organizer said the food drive — which had garnered a packed shopping cart and two boxes full of goods at press time — captured the hearts and minds of community members because of the awareness and compassion of individuals to help out Winnipeggers facing homelessness or poverty.
"We’ve been trying to raise awareness and spread the word online by asking Winnipeggers to help feed the homeless this Easter," said Alisha Paul, ICUC’s vice-president of agency integration.
Paul said the social media services company began the Easter food drive with Siloam four years ago after seeing a tweet appealing for donations.
"Siloam is really in the hearts of Winnipeggers because they are always thinking about others and dedicated to helping others in their time of need and beyond," said Paul, who lives in River Heights.
"Winnipeggers are known for their capacity to give," added Paul, noting one man went into the store just to buy flour and came out with a case of Kraft Dinner for the drive.
As well as food contributions and cash donations from shoppers entering and exiting the St Vital-based store — which included items ranging from coffee, cookies, crackers, canned fruit, peanut butter and gravy mix — organizers also helped drum up interest by promoting and live-tweeting the event at @ICUC and @SiloamMission using the hashtag #Shop4Siloam.
Judy Richichi, Siloam’s director of development and finance, said guests at the mission could expect a slap-up Easter dinner.
"There will be a turkey dinner with stuffing, potatoes, vegetables and a dessert bar, as well as Easter eggs and games. Guests will get to stay all day and enjoy the spirit of the community and fellowship. It’s important they know they’re special," said Richichi, who lives in St. Norbert, noting it takes an average of $3.11 to feed an individual at the mission.
Richichi said the mission was expecting to prepare Easter dinner for around 700 visitors and praised the spirit of community members to donate to the cause.
"It’s about making sure everyone has food in our country. We are blessed and fortunate and should be looking out for each other and if everybody does a little bit, it all adds up. It’s fabulous that ICUC has partnered with us, because it’s really about partnering with Winnipeggers to become a positive solution for change."
Individuals can donate to Siloam online using a secure PayPal server by visiting http://www.siloam.ca/get-involved/donate/donate-online/one-time-donation/ and following the links.