The vulnerability of Edmonton’s downtown core is a side of the city some teens never get to see, but the Gathering Angels youth group are eager to offer a helping hand to those in need.
More than a dozen members of the group got together Sunday to prepare a traditional Lebanese meal for the community at Boyle Street.
“I’m really that we have this experience to feed all these community members,” said Nesrirne Merhi-Tarrabain, the Gathering Angels’ founder.
The girls, aged 10 to 18, handed out more than 160 meals and care packages filled with warm clothing and hygiene products. Boyle Street officials said they haven’t seen many visits like this one since the pandemic hit almost three years ago.
“A warm meal and a nutritious meal and a delicious meal — anyone appreciates that and our folks really appreciated it because they don’t always get one. I think it’s a much needed respite from a lot of the conditions they have to deal with in a normal day,” said group volunteer Jenine Qasqas.
Dan Zimmerman from Boyle Street Community Services said their community doesn’t get opportunities to enjoy food like this, let alone prepared by youth who are so eager to help.
“It’s heart-warming… just makes you feel good,” said Anthony Smith, who enjoyed a hot meal.
“It’s food when I don’t have food,” said Andrew Dncey. “I’m honestly homeless and eating this for a dish — there is nothing else that completed my day and made me feel better.”
The Angels have been providing meals since 2016, and organizers say this is an experience filled with important lessons for them.
“Life is not all about Instagram and about richness — we have community members that we need to take care of,” Merhi-Tarrabain said.
It’s a labour of love these girls cherish, and one that is welcomed by those they serve.
“It’s inspiring,” Dncey said. “I can imagine how they would be intimidated, maybe, or scared to even approach this type of environment.”