A local Montreal restaurateur took a moment out of his busy schedule Friday to deliver food and warm clothing to homeless people camped out on Notre-Dame Street East.
The encampment sprung up this summer and has continued to grow as people fall on hard times during the pandemic.
Carmine Anoia, Kitchen 73 co-founder, said he drives by the makeshift camp regularly and has stopped by to chat with campers.
“They feel neglected,” he said. “So I thought it was a good move, my brother and I, to come here today and feed them.”
Thanks to community donations, Anoia was able to collect warm jackets, mitts and more. One company even donated sauce to make pizzas for the group.
“Everybody gave a bit here and a bit there. It’s heartwarming to see,” Anoia said.
Jacques Brochu, one of the settlement’s first residents, said Friday’s visit was an unexpected but timely surprise — one he says he’s thankful for.
To show his gratitude, Brochu wrote thank you notes to organizers, thanking them for their generosity.
“It’s little thing for me to write a little paper but it’s huge for a person to receive a written thanks instead of having just a verbal thanks,” he said.
Brochu said he’s been preparing himself for the cold months ahead by insulating his tent with bubble wrap and tarps.
He plans on toughing out the winter at the camp.
Brochu said he’s not interested in staying in a shelter, saying it’s only a temporary solution.
“I don’t want temporary, I don’t want to be treated like a child,” he said, adding that housing is the only thing that will get him to leave the camp.
For his part, Anoia was thrilled with the response from campers.
“They can’t believe we came out here,” he said.
Now Anoia is looking ahead and planning for a Christmas surprise.
“I have a funding page for them,” he said. “And with those funds, I’m hoping that we can collect enough that by Christmas, the week before Christmas, we can come back and give them a gift, a Christmas gift… something they probably haven’t gotten in years.”