Edmonton church finds unique way to provide meals for less fortunate during pandemic

Edmonton groups helping less fortunate during COVID-19 pandemic
WATCH: As Prime Minster Justin Trudeau announced millions in funding for women's shelters, Edmonton groups are stepping up to help the less fortunate. Chris Chacon reports.

In the push to help the less fortunate amid the COVID-19 pandemic, several volunteers with the Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish made multiple trips back and forth from their cars to the Bissell Centre, unloading important items for a Sunday lunch.

Since 1987, volunteers with several local churches have been helping Edmonton’s inner-city population.

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Due to the coronavirus pandemic, they had to stop their weekly sit-down luncheons for the less fortunate — but they still wanted to give back.

“This is a total different way of doing things and we’ve had to adjust on the fly, just like everyone else. Were doing [the] best we can,” said Mary-Lou Veeken, president of the Catholic Women’s League at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish.
“That led to our project of having members of the Catholic Women’s League… They’re at home anyway [so we] put them to productive use and they all took up a sewing project.
“The last week and a half, we sewed lunch bags so that there was a package to put [prepackaged items] in.”

Twenty women sewed more than 200 custom bags to hand out — a keepsake for recipients after a nourishing lunch made by volunteers throughout the city.

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“We’re looking to do our part in the community and that means following the guidelines that are given to us from the health authorities,” said Michael Borynec, a member of the Knights of Columbus at the Our Lady of Perpetual Help parish.

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“So that means we are changing the ways we are doing everything, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to do any less. It means we’re going to do more.”

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Organizers said that even though worship services might remain cancelled, they will continue the meal program no matter how long the crisis lasts.

“It happens every Sunday. Each church will find their own way of making it happen, but our church will be back in September, pandemic or no pandemic,” Veeken said.