The Jewish Community’s Out of the Cold response to hunger in Hamilton’s community has completed their 21st season.
OOTC continues to accept donations, monetary and gifts in kind, throughout the year. Please call Beth Jacob Synagogue to make a contribution.
You may have been an active volunteer, or furloughed or retired, or a member of the team of excellent bakers. (Thank God the flour shortage didn’t last.) You may have been a side-lined cheerleader, financial supporter, as well as a mask-wearing, hand-scrubbing, huge hearted and generous soul!
The one thing you were not is afraid. Did you know that one of the most common commandments God gives in the Bible is ‘al tirah,’ do not be afraid? Fear could have stopped us but we had faith in ourselves, in others, in the world, in Life. Our mission is to feed people, COVID-19 or not! The thousands of takeaway bags overflowing with nutritious meals, snacks, and fruit was like the invention of bumper bowling. It had to be a surefire success!
Back in November, with the help of Sandy’s Erskine A team, we easily transitioned to a new church. Erskine Presbyterian and Cam, its facilities manager, greeted us like family. Reverend Mike reassured us with every lockdown, that as long as he was concerned, we were essential workers welcomed in His House! To be among people doing something so purposeful for others brings great satisfaction.
The enormous weekly delivery of produce from Lococo’s was integrated into our meals but, with so much left over, we were able to open a very successful free-for-the-taking curb-side Farmer’s Market. Guests were giddy with gratitude! Fortinos on Main St. W. continued to supply us with beautiful breads and Homeless Cars contributed TWICE this season much needed funds from the sale of donated cars. Please support all of these generous establishments.
Over the 2020/2021 season, we delivered curb-side 1,616 meals over 11 weeks, averaging 147 meals per week. On our last night, 202 meals went out along with a list of places to access meals and shelters and a survey for our guests to provide feedback. Questions included: Present locations and desired locations? Time of day convenient? Meal portions appropriate? Other desirable non-food items? As we enter summer, we will use our guests’ feedback to steer our budgets and efforts to re-open sites, remain with curb-side or carefully structure an in-person meal, … who knows? Twelve months ago, we asked the same questions. Our Board, coordinators, church hosts and volunteers revised health and safety protocols more times than we can count, created new menus that could be executed with fewer cooks, streamlined packaging and outdoor pickup. Truthfully, for so many reasons, this year has felt differently gratifying. The pandemic has affected all of us in more ways than we want to admit. Haven’t you given and received care, attention and kindness throughout the last year? Many of our guests have openly shared their new struggles with us. With each honest declaration, we created the humanity that this pandemic has brought to all of us.
One of our guests periodically dropped off small works of art in watercolour as a symbol of her thanks. One displayed a simple flower accompanied by the words:
Thank you! Numbers 6:24-26.
Opening my Tanakh, flipping the thin pages, I found its meaning.
24 The Lord bless you and protect you!
25 The Lord deal kindly and graciously with you!
26 The Lord bestow his favour upon you and grant you peace!
May you and your families experience the upcoming seasons of Passover, Easter and Spring in good health and may we all be together again soon.