The Salvation Army's Donna and Donald Bladen were on hand to hand out winter care packages, containing clothing essentials and other items for the cold winter months, during the Tuesday lunch service at the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen. Herald photo by Ian Martens
The Lethbridge Soup Kitchen and the Lethbridge Salvation Army have teamed up to not only feed those in need, but clothe them for the winter months as well.
On Tuesday afternoon at the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen, patrons not only got a hot meal, but were also sent away with a winter care package containing clothing essentials for the cold winter months.
“The Salvation Army has provided the food and we’ve provided winter care kits to help the homeless stay warm and stay relatively healthy as the weather starts to get cold,” said Donald Bladen, a major with the Salvation Army and Community Ministries officer.
The initiative is a spinoff from Hope In The City, a major event which happens annually with the Salvation Army in Calgary and Edmonton, said Bladen.
“This year they’ve gone to a virtual event and as a result they’ve spread the funds around the province and we’ve been fortunate enough to receive some funding and some items from them to be able to do this initiative.”
The winter packages include a toque, a couple of pairs of socks, a toothbrush, toothpaste some lip balm as well as some candy treats, saidBladen.
“None of it is terribly expensive, but it’s not so much about the value of the items, it’s more about the valuable of caring and giving hope and the value we instill in these folks to know they are of value. It’s a great community effort and a great initiative.”
Lethbridge Soup Kitchen executive director Bill Ginther said the soup kitchen is always excited to collaborate with other local agencies.
“We’re working with Donald and they’ve provided kits which we’ll be handing out. The kits are loaded with all kinds of things including socks, mitts and gloves and all kinds of other useful items, personal care things toothbrushes and toothpaste.”
The partnership between the Salvation Army and the Soup Kitchen is building and ongoing, said Bladen.
“Bill is a great partner, as is the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen. They have incredible volunteers and incredible support from the community and the Salvation Army is very proud to be a part of this endeavour.”
On Tuesday, patrons of the soup kitchen enjoyed a taco meal with all the fixings.
“It’s exciting for our guests to do something a little bit different and at the same for us to work together with those who are in need in our city,” said Ginther. “The Salvation Army has a great reputation for doing that and for us to partner with them is just ideal.”
Ginther noted that while people are being asked to stay home during the pandemic, the homeless don’t have a place to stay.
“I think as much as we’re affected by it, I think they’re affected even more. So to do something special and they feel they are wanted and needed, especially at Christmas time, but at other times of the year as well. It’s really important for us to step up and serve them in the way they need to be served.”
Starting today, the Lethbridge Soup Kitchen will be partnering with Alpha House, opening the dining room at the soup kitchen from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. for overflow space.
“We’ve been looking for places to put people,” said Ginther. “People are still staying outside and plus-four is doable, but at the same time none of us want to be outside in the wet and cold. This way, they’ll have a place to stay. We’re going to make it an almost multi-use facility. The folks will stay here for the night and put matts down. By morning they’ll pull them up and we’ll serve a meal here. That is working in cooperation with Alpha House. We’re doing our best. We know we can’t meet every need, but we’re doing our small part to make sure we can make a difference in the lives of those who need us.”