by Lynn Sherwood, January 2019
When I received a request to represent HEFC at Santa’s Breakfast on December 10 starting at 7:30 AM, I was mildly horrified. I thought “Who in the world goes out to a community breakfast that early on a Saturday morning”. Demonstrating, as I felt, a strong commitment to my cause, I got there by 8 AM only to discover that the community centre parking lot, and the community centre, was packed to the rafters with families with young children who had turned out to celebrate the Christmas season by attending the free pancake breakfast, craft rooms, and visit with Santa provided by Urbandale Developments, Canterbury Community Centre and Councilor Jean Cloutier. At that point I realized that I had totally forgotten the average preschooler’s enthusiasm for sunrise, as well as parental desperation to get them out of the house. Our Heroes this month are the families of Alta Vista preschoolers.
Santa’s Breakfast turned out to be an entirely positive experience. Patient parents and wide-eyed children, many dressed in their special Christmas outfits, proceeded from the long line to visit Santa, to the free breakfast, catered by Sam Karkach on Beincie Pizzeria on Lorry Greenberg Drive. Sam told me that he used to be manager at Lorenzo’s, next to the Canterbury Community Centre, and that he had been there since 4 AM, preparing 6oo meals of pancakes and sausages. Following the breakfast, children were able to make crafts, in a third area, sponsored by Canterbury Community Centre. While Councilor Cloutier greeted everyone at the door, Linda Searle, Program Administrator at Canterbury Community Centre, rotated from room to room and ensured that the whole event proceeded in a seamless fashion. This is the 18th year for this very well organized event.
My table was situated near the entrance to the festivities, and most families left a donation, either of nonperishable food, or cash. By the end of the morning we had two large boxes overflowing with provisions, as well as $241.75 in cash, to help provide nourishing food to those in need in our community. Linda told me that they also have food collections as part of some of their other programs at the community centre; their talent show and after school program also sponsor food drives for HEFC. Linda is a well-known face at HEFC as she is there frequently to drop off donations.
Community events such as this are a great way of helping us understand and appreciate the connection we all have to each other. It was a good thing to see these little children entrusted with giving their donation for the Heron Emergency Food Centre, learning to give back to the community which is giving so much good will and support to them as they grow up.
The holiday season is an especially demanding time at HEFC and we very much need and appreciate the support of our community during this period. Your support has enabled us to supply nourishing food to, on an average 1800 individuals every month, as well as a few extras for the holiday season, all donated – fruitcake, tea bags, real butter, fresh vegetables and fruits, and of course, turkeys. We thank you for your good will and for the support you are demonstrating for those among us who are experiencing challenges making ends meet.
Recent news reports are predicting that the average cost of food for a family of four will increase by $400.00 during the next year in consequence of the environmental impact of climate change. Additionally, the cost of housing in Ottawa continues to increase year over year. There is no doubt that the systemic causes of food insecurity are not going to be alleviated any time in the near future. Your continued support is one way of demonstrating your commitment to addressing, in an individual way, your acknowledgement of these issues, and your concern for those of us who are being left behind in our increasingly competitive times. We thank you for your continued support as we enter 2019.
Members of the Board of HEFC are happy to attend your events or fundraiser - even early on a Saturday morning - to talk about the service we, all together, provide for our community. Call us at 613 737-9090 or e-mail us at email@example.com for more information.
Heron Emergency Food Centre is located at 1480 Heron Road and is open 4 days a week to provide emergency food to people in need in Ottawa South.
Check out our Facebook page at Heron Emergency Food Centre @hefcottawa