The spirit of giving is coming a little earlier this year as volunteers gather at Place Émilie-Gamelin in Montreal on Sunday to distribute food to the homeless.
The initiative started with Jessica Glazer a month ago. She decided one day to grab her children, run to Costco, fill up her car with food and deliver them to every person she saw on the street.
Glazer has been doing this every Wednesday since.
“I know what I’m doing is a Band-Aid solution, but at least it’s something,” said Glazer. “They’re starving and I was just so sad. I was like, ‘What has happened to humanity that we’re allowing this to happen? How is this happening in our own city.'”
With the help of a few restaurants and donations this time around, volunteers amassed over 100 warmed cooked spaghetti meals donated by local restaurant Da Giovanni.
“Sometimes you don’t know the person’s psychological effect,” said owner of restaurant Petros Taverna Ted Dranias. “A lot of these guys are psychologically effected so the burden is (more) psychological than physical.”
Members of the community were given masks, hygiene care packages, gift cards, heat pads and more.
“Cause we gave gift cards also so, if they want to buy something, well, they can’t go in because they don’t have a mask,” said volunteer Jessianne Belham.
Members of the community were thrilled by their generosity.
“To see that they’re doing good for others, it brings a kind spirit around us,” said community member Christine Langevin.
With winter creeping at our doorstep, Montrealers living on the streets will be needing extra help.
“Winter is not easy for everyone in the streets so just give them a little bit of hope that they can get through it,” said Belham.
Many of them rely on the generosity of passerby, but with the coronavirus pandemic, partial lockdowns and remote working as reduced foot traffic.
“The restaurants aren’t open there’s no cans to collect and we’re not even downtown to see them,” said Glazer.
“It brightens up a lot of people’s day, you know, going through COVID and all the stress that comes with everything,” said Langevin.
According to Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante, the homeless population has doubled in the past six months, leaving close to 6,000 people without rooves over their heads.
“Yes, she’s doing something, but its not enough — we need more,” said Glazer.
Last month, the city unveiled its new emergency winter plan. It includes 700 new beds in temporary shelters across the city six STM bus shuttles and nine warming shelters.
Glazer hopes to continue giving back on a weekly basis with the help of donations and volunteers.