By Katrina Alblas
As the crisp autumn air blows in, Canadians start to pull out the sweaters and socks again, ready to bundle up. Homes become a cozy place of refuge this time of year as we get ready to embrace the changing of the seasons.
But while this change brings comfort for many, it can bring other families worry and unease.
According to the latest census by statistics Canada, 14.2% of Canadians live in low income houses which, as defined by statistic Canada, is when a household’s adjusted income is less than half of the adjusted median income.
For families living in this bracket, a jacket could cost them food for a week; heating the house or apartment could mean their child can’t afford to go on a school field trip. Thankfully, difficult choices like these can be prevented when a family in need steps into a food bank and community centre like the Neighbour to Neighbour Centre in Hamilton, Ontario, just outside of Toronto.
Neighbour to Neighbour is not only an emergency food bank, their mission is to, “lead families to an improved quality of life,” and they achieve this goal by offering emergency food services as well as family counselling, employment assistance, language assistance, and tutoring programs. They satisfy the immediate needs of a family and then go beyond in order to assist in poverty prevention and equip families to improve their quality of life.
As a result of seeing the need in the “Hamilton mountain community,” Neighbour to Neighbour also offers a range of assistive services. The organization and its volunteers are a direct response to the call in Isaiah 58:7 “Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give Clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help.”
A diversity of individuals and families are blessed and welcomed by Neighbour to Neighbour through their many programs for families, women, employment, and language.
Neighbour to Neighbour is only made possible through volunteers, donated goods, and of course, money. Many of the family counsellors are trained volunteers who have chosen to give of their own time and gifts to serve the people and families in the community.
And, it’s a wonderful full circle as many of the people who have benefitted from services through Neighbour to Neighbour then become volunteers of their own time in community gardens and markets around the city.
The blessings received this season should not be contained inside the walls of a single home, but rather shared with many. As Jesus says in Luke 3:11 “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”
As Christians in our communities we have an opportunity to respond with creativity and kindness to the needs that are outside our doorsteps. Take some time to see the need in your own community, and think of the gifts that you can offer – whether that is money, food or volunteering your time – to assist families who may be in need this season – Joy always overflows from a truly generous heart.
For more information about the impact that Neighbour to Neighbour has their community see:
Neighbour to Neighbour
You can help by donating:
• Canned meats/fish
• Canned veggies/fruits (without the juices)
• Peanut butter
• Pasta sauce
• Baby food
• Other non-perishable items.
• Money. Every $1.00 that is donated equals $9.00 worth of food.