Windsor Youth Centre volunteers bring free lunches to downtown streets

By Dalson Chen, The Windsor Star

free lunch 01WIndsor Youth Centre volunteers (left to right) William Campbell, Amber Millar, and Patricia Caron roam downtown Windsor looking to give away burrito lunches to hungry folks in need on Nov. 24, 2016. TYLER BROWNBRIDGE / WINDSOR STAR

Thursday may have been Thanksgiving Day for the U.S. rather than Canada, but volunteers with the Windsor Youth Centre still took the occasion to do some giving — bringing free lunches to downtown streets.

“We don’t want to leave anyone hungry out in the cold,” said Patricia Caron, a Windsor Youth Centre volunteer.

Caron said she’s been hanging onto the idea ever since she herself was homeless about a year ago in London — and she was given a free lunch by a volunteer organization there.

WYC executive director Tamara Kowalska said the initiative was driven by Caron and other youth centre volunteers who have experienced times of need.

“Once you know what it’s like to be hungry, you don’t forget. And you don’t ever want anyone else to feel that way,” Kowalska said.

Volunteers packed 50 paper bag lunches in total. Each bag contained a hearty burrito, a juice box, two homemade granola bars, an apple, paper napkins, and a handwritten note on a WYC business card.

free lunch 02Windsor Youth Centre volunteers Guy Caza, left, and Michael Nicholls look for hungry folks in need of a free lunch in downtown Windsor on Nov. 24, 2016. TYLER BROWNBRIDGE / WINDSOR STAREvery personal message was different, ranging from a simple “Have a great day” to the complimentary “You have a great smile.”

The burritos — made by volunteers Edwin and Ashraf — contained ground beef, rice, beans, cheese and sour cream.

“Homeless people don’t have to think about calories,” volunteer Amber Millar quipped.

Windsor Youth Centre administrative assistant Donna Roy said the intention was for each bag lunch to be a complete meal.

After loading a minivan with the lunches, WYC volunteers roamed the downtown core on foot, looking for hungry people in need.

The first recipient of a bag was Claude — a man with a ragged backpack who was found wandering the parking lot of the Food Basics store on Goyeau Street.

Claude said he has been living at the Salvation Army.

“I have kids myself, a granddaughter,” Claude told volunteers. “I’m happy you guys are out doing this.”

claudeThe hands of Claude — a man who said he has been living at the Salvation Army — as he receives a free bag lunch from volunteers with the Windsor Youth Centre in downtown Windsor on Nov. 24, 2016. DALSON CHEN / WINDSOR STAR

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Windsor, Ontario N9A 3K6

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