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For every not-for-profit organization or social cause awareness is half the battle. My give today is jumping an the bandwagon for Hunger Awareness Day. Hunger is an issue all over the world even in Canada. Quoted from the Hunger Awareness Day site:
“This year Canadians are being invited to make a change – big or small – that can impact the issue of hunger in our country.”
Day 245: Give 245
(Facts taken from the Hunger Awareness Day site)
There IS hunger in Canada
In 2010, close to 900,000 people were assisted each month by a food bank in Canada. This was 9% higher than in 2009 and 28% higher than in 2008. Thanks in large part to the effects of the recession, in 2009, 72,000 people per month walked through the doors of a food bank for the first time.
There IS hunger in Canada because…
Too many Canadians do not have enough income to pay for rent, bills, clothing for growing children, transportation, medication – and food. Food is unfortunately one of the most flexible household expenses, and it is often nutrition that suffers when money is tight.
I live in Vancouver and we just voted one of the most expensive places to live on the planet. I couldn’t imagine trying to own a home, feed your family, pay for gas ($1.38 litre!) send your kids to school, after school programs and the list of living expenses goes on. No wonder even in Canada families are struggling every day to put food on the table. But how can we help? Here are action steps you can take to bring more awareness to the issue of hunger in Canada.
Change what you know about hunger
We all have some ideas about the issue of hunger in Canada. Ideas about what may cause it, who is affected by it, and maybe even how we can address it. Here are some ideas for how to change what you know about it.
- Read the 2010 Hungercount report
- Visit the About Hunger Page at foodbankscanada.ca
- Check out the following video
- Invite a food bank representative to visit your school, place of worship or workplace to talk about hunger in your community
Food banks rely on the generosity of the individuals and the companies that support them. It’s thanks to local food and fund drives and the efforts of communities across the country – large and small – that Canada’s network of more than 3,000 food agencies are able to provide essential services for those in need.
Volunteer. Most food banks offer a wide range of volunteer positions and flexible hours that can be matched to your skills and availability. Contact your local food bank to find out how you can get involved.
Coordinate a food drive. Collect non-perishable food at your school, office or place of worship. Suggest that donations be from the most needed food lists.
Become a monthly donor. Most food banks are set up to accept donations on a one time basis or ongoing basis. Consider growing an occasional donation to a regular contribution. Connect with your local food bank.
Change how you support your food bank
One important change you can make is in how you talk about hunger, or even whether you talk at all about it. With close to 900,000 Canadians having visited a food bank in an average month in 2010, there is certainly a lot to discuss. What can you say? Consider the following:
- Click that you Like Food Banks Canada on Facebook
- Follow Food Banks Canada on Twitter and post links to any updates on your Twitter page
- Call or email your MP to let them know you think that hunger is an issue in Canada
- Discuss the issue, with your friends, children, coworkers… bring it to life by sharing what you know about it!
As I said awareness is half the battle. Whether you support in a small way or large way every little bit helps.
Have you volunteered or donated to help a local shelter or foodbank? Leave us a comment with your story and how it felt to give help to hunger.
Time Commitment: 30 minutes to write my post to create awareness
How many homeless people or people begging for money have you walked past in your life? Or just the past week? How many times have you stopped with a coffee, sandwich, loose change or just a friendly hello?
Day 230: Give 230
- 867,948 people turned to food banks in 2010
- 38% of those helped were children
- An increase of almost 10% in one year
- Approximately 3700 people live on the streets
Being originally from Toronto and volunteering for years with the homeless and hungry I like to think I have a good understanding of what their world is about. Living in West Vancouver you rarely see the face of hunger or homelessness as it does not seem to be a destination spot for them to hang out. Vancouver is well known for a very centralized place that many of our homeless gather. (East Hastings) Today as I drove home from grocery shopping with my son I had the opportunity to give a helping hand to two young people that were obviously having a tough time. They were begging for money on a very busy intersection. I struggle at times when considering giving cash to people begging. I wonder if maybe the money is going to support their “habits” with drugs or alcohol rather than for food or a bed. This particular young lady did not look like she was using any substance or was a user. I decided to do two things to help.
- I handed her $5.00
- I gave her two apples from my grocery bag.
Maybe the apples will help the hunger pains and maybe the $5.00 will help them (along with a few other donations) get a clean bed and a roof over their heads tonight. The face of hunger and homelessness looks so different every where you go. It’s not always the drunk old man we imagine that sleeps on a cardboard box on the street corner. There are times in our lives when all of us have needed a helping hand. Some of us were lucky enough to have had friends or family that supported those times and some of us have not.
I read some where once that every time I think about giving money to a person and start to hesitate, I was to remind myself that I always have another $5.00 in the bank and I have the ability to make another $5.00 Saving and holding on to all I have isn’t going to bring me a better life. It may bring me more “stuff” and luxuries but it won’t feed my heart and soul. For me, giving does just that – it fills me up from the inside.
Time Commitment: 15 seconds
Cost: $5.00 plus 2 apples
I love the concept of “Every Day Heroes.” I know this topic has been done more than once but these heroes are the people of the world no one knows. They don’t do amazing philanthopic things for the recognition they do it because they believe in what they are accomplishing and have a passion for giving. They are filling the space that is not always filled by the not-for-profit sector. My next guest has changed the way I think about giving. Just when I feel I am doing some “good” in the world I meet someone that amazes and inspires so much I want to keep giving everyday for the rest of my life because of them. Meet my new friend Chelsea Peters.
I met Chelsea through a friend of a friend. You know that 6 degrees of separation concept? That is how Chelsea and I met. I feel like we have always been just 6 steps away from each other and finally we both turned at the same time and we bumped into each other. Chelsea is doing something I have dreamed of for most of my adult life. She is opening an orphanage in Uganda for street kids. She and her partner Morris are not millionaires. She does not
have extensive knowledge on how to go about opening an orphanage, starting a not for profit nor do they have any children of their own. But they care for these forgotten children on the street. They understand their needs and want to help them with a passion so deep in their hearts it is driving them to do what they need to do to make it happen. Chelsea writes about a generous donation she recently received from an 8 year old girl from Colorado. My give is not only sharing Chelsea and Morris’s story but matching the donation of an 8 year old. If she can find $100 in her life savings so can I. They need just $6500.00 to get the orphanage up and running. How will you help Chelsea? How will you help the street kids that have been abandon in the streets of Lira. Even $10 will help. Read the story and hit that donation button. Help Chelsea and Morris bring their dream alive.
Day 209: Give 209 Guest Chelsea Peters
In February I was in Lira, Uganda visiting my partner Morris. I found a little street boy named Junior, who is 8 years old. He had wandered by earlier when Morris and I were sharing food with the other street children. Junior began playing silently with his broken toy car. Each time we peaked out to check on him, there he was playing in his imaginary world. I hoped that world was a better place than his reality. This car was the only possession he had in the world and it had been broken by the local police (they treat the children of the street a bit like rats.) He had painstakingly worked to repair it. He wanted to give me his car to take home and fix. I wanted to get him a new one. When I told him that he smiled sweetly up at me and showed me that all he really wanted was to hold my hand. I think what he really wanted was to come home with me. I sat in the dirt with him in a white dress as dust whirled around and passersbys stared at the ‘muzungu’ (foreigner) and the street kid. I had nothing to give of mine but my old blue hair tie.
Junior needed so much more than a hair elastic. Yet at the same time the simple hair elastic was exactly what he needed. It represented a bond between us that nobody can take away from him. Two months later I am back in Vancouver and my partner Morris (still in Lira) still feeds him everyday. He still wears the blue hair elastic on his wrist.
Morris and I have made a promise to fight for Junior and the more than 100 homeless street kids in Lira like him. That promise is Atin Afrika Foundation and the residential shelter that we are creating for the street kids of Lira.
The other 8 year old in this story is a little girl named Brynn who lives in Colorado. She has never been to Africa and she has never met me. Her mom Hillary and I worked together on animal rescue projects in Mexico and that is how Brynn came to hear my story, the story of Junior and Atin Afrika Foundation.
I received an email from Hillary recently. This is what is said. “Brynn and I hit some thrift stores today to get the goods for her crafty ideas. While we were driving I told her about the fundraising you’re doing. I told her how Morris has been bringing Junior food, got him a jacket, all about the rainy season and the kids having to sleep on the streets in the cold. Brynn was silent for about 30 seconds and I wondered whether she’d heard anything I said.”
After some thought these were the words that came from an 8 year old’s mouth “Mom, send Chelsea $100 from my bank account.” Her mother was stunned. She’s 8. She has $400 and wants to send 1/4 of her life savings to me because she believes in what I am doing. She knew that I will do far more than the value of $100 worth of good with it.
The email continues from Brynn’s Mom, ” She’s been like this since the very beginning. Thanks for inspiring her!”
Giving is a chain reaction that happens when people are inspired to act. In my case it began with a blue piece of rubber. A hair elastic changed my life. I realize that this sounds preposterous, but truly a hair elastic changed my life.
A little girl from Colorado named Brynn humbled me and my email back to her mother was short, “ Please tell Brynn that its kids like her who inspire us all to act and think beyond ourselves because if an 8 year old can how is it possible that we grown-ups do not?”
Maybe we can’t change the world, but we can change the lives of these street children. Children are our future and despite all the cynicism and scepticism, knowing that there are kids like Brynn and Junior out there, makes me believe there’s hope.
Chelsea Peters took a trip with friends brought her to Lira and after meeting the street children, spending time with them and hearing their stories she made a promise to herself to do everything in her power to give them two things missing in their lives; hope and love. She is in the planning process of starting the Atin Afrika Foundation with her partner Morris Owiny.
Time Commitment: Chelsea is making a lifetime commitment
Cost: 365give is matching the $100 donation made by Brynn