“I always wanted to do something in my community and nothing really threw itself at me like this opportunity did,” says Kim, as she seals baggies with sandwiches in them. It’s Wednesday morning and Kim and a mighty team of volunteers are making lunches in the kitchen of Symons Valley United Church in NW Calgary. Feeding kids at four schools in their neighbourhood, the volunteers swiftly slice celery, portion carrots and snacks and prepare a variety of sandwiches.
“I love getting out of the house twice a week to come and visit with our group, our little family that makes lunches together. I buy the groceries, bring them here, we make the lunches and deliver them directly to the schools. It’s nice to see this happen, because otherwise these kids wouldn’t get lunch. This might be the best nutrition they get today, so that keeps us going,” Kim shares.
Volunteers Pierre and Maryanne have volunteered for two community groups in their neighbourhood, moving from the Bow Valley Community group to Symons Valley when it began in February of 2018. “We were asked if we might move over here, they needed more help at this end of the community because this group had picked up more schools,” explains Maryanne. “If you want to get ahead in school you need good health. Part of the health side of it is having good food in your belly, healthy food leads to healthy minds. It feels good to know we are providing for these kids at school.”
“I’m the veggie king,” Pierre says with a smile, “I do the veggies, I don’t do the sandwiches, they’re too complex – they have two sides, you’ve got to fold them in the middle… I stick to veggies,” he shares with a laugh. “We’ve got a good life. We’ve worked hard and made it to retirement, and this is a good way to give back. It makes you focus on and appreciate the things going on around you. You’ve got to do your part.”
This group of volunteers who come together to care for kids in their neighbouring schools appreciate the strength of community when people work together to make a difference. “We love getting together with this gang of people every week. It’s always nice to catch up and share different stories during your week or hear what’s been going on with the schools,” says Maryanne. “We really enjoy getting together and comparing stories every week. Having fun and having a few laughs while we make lunches.”
The greater community has also gotten involved, with one of the schools the group cares for hosting a Lenten fundraiser for funds for the group’s groceries. “You make a connection when you deliver the lunches and they start getting to know who you are, you make a connection with the school,” shares Pierre.
To learn more about starting your own community group, please visit here.