Rising to the challenge given by Trail Career Development Services, the Community Harvest Food Bank will once again be hosting a Coins for Change event, which will take place Saturday, Sept. 10.
The multifaceted event is designed not just to be a fundraiser for the food bank, but to spark a real conversation on poverty and homelessness within the community as well. “We just need to have a community conversation on what poverty is, and what challenges are out there,” said organizer and food bank president Deb McIntosh. “It’s really important that we understand what is going on and why it is going on and looking at how we facilitate change.”
Like at last year’s event, a group of people have committed to spending the night outside at the Station Museum, where the event will take place. Some of those people will be also be collecting pledges as a means of fundraising for the food bank.
Although sleeping outside is a means of raising awareness about the problem of homelessness, organizers realize that spending one night outside is not the same thing as true homelessness. “Sleeping outside for one night is not going to in any way, shape or form make me feel what it is like to actually be homeless,” said McIntosh. “We have our sleeping bags, we have our warm clothes and a big pot of soup on in the museum, we have a camp fire, we are not alone, we don’t have to worry that we have to do a sexual act just to have a roof over our head.”
Coins for Change will kick off at 7 p.m. and organizers are inviting the whole community to come out and join in the conversation on poverty. Those who are financially able can also participate by making a donation on site that night, or by donating to the food bank directly.
Another way to participate is to just go on down to the event and share your story, or listen to others’ stories. There will be a pot of soup on, as well as a camp fire and musical entertainment. “People will come around and play guitar, and we’ll talk,” explained McIntosh. “What happens then is that you will meet people that you wouldn’t otherwise have had an opportunity to meet.”
Poverty presents itself in many different ways. “You never know what path someone is walking,” said McIntosh. “You don’t have to be the guy on the street sleeping on a bench to be included. That’s why I think the conversation needs to be had; your neighbour might look like they are doing great, but they could be struggling.”
Exact figures on homelessness are not easy to come by, but McIntosh estimates that if you include youth and couch-surfing, there are probably at least 25 homeless people here in Castlegar. The Community Harvest Food Bank operates an emergency shelter, which is currently housing three residents.
“Although the money is wonderful, I think the emphasis will be on the conversation around it, how to accept people, how to approach people and how to bridge that gap,” concluded McIntosh.
For more information, contact Deb McIntosh at 250-365-6440 or 250-608-1047.