For 50 years, the St. Vincent de Paul Society of Kingston has helped the region’s most vulnerable people.
The charitable organization relies on the goodwill of the community for donations of goods and money.
At the beginning of September, the organization launched its annual fall fundraising campaign.
Executive director Judy Fyfe admits that this year the campaign has started slowly and donations are down.
“It’s been a leaner year than most and so we’re struggling a little harder,” she said. “But we are enjoying more awareness about what we are doing so again we’re optimistic.”
Part of that awareness push includes a mail-out campaign that provides a breakdown of what a meal costs, Fyfe told Global Kingston.
“These costs don’t just include the food, it’s also all the other incidentals that go into running that meal program.”
Those costs include things like electricity.
Food donations from area businesses and organizations help keep that cost low.
“Lionhearts, they help provide us with fresh produce and other meal items, Cobs Bakery, Costco — all of these local businesses have helped us keep that cost low.”
All factors included, the charity has priced a single meal they serve at $3.10.
Providing that information helps inform the public that even a small donation can make a difference. The mail-out card has examples of donations and how far they go; for a $31 contribution, for instance, the donor has supplied 10 meals.
Fyfe says a number of donations they have received show that the cards are raising awareness.
“We’re receiving cheques that are of certain numbers of meals so that’s really encouraging.”
The need for the support St. Vincent de Paul Society provides is also increasing, Fyfe says.
“When I started in 2012, we were serving 13,000, then 14,000 meals. Our highest service year was 21,000 meals a year.”
Fyfe adds that the charity is on pace to exceed that high in 2019.
St. Vincent de Paul also runs a food pantry. Fyfe says they spend about $20,000 annually on food and that is bolstered with food donations.
The organization has seen a dramatic increase in the number of families relying on the pantry service this year as well.
“In the course of a month, 200 visits to our pantry,” says Fyfe. “We have 1,500-people-plus registered. We’ve seen an additional 200 families, new families, new faces that we’ve never served before, just this year alone.”
This year’s fundraising goal is $200,000, which helps cover a large portion of the St. Vincent de Paul Society’s roughly $250,000 annual operating budget.