By The Reverends Robert Clifford, Sharla Malliff, and Paul Poolton
In this period of economic disruption and public health anxiety due to the situation with the spread of COVID-19, three Anglican parishes hosted a drive through, physically distanced non-perishable food drive in support of the Unemployed Help Centre of Windsor on Sunday afternoon, March 29.
The first letter of John, chapter 3 verse 11, reminds us “this is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another”. Also, the 3rd Mark of Mission from the Anglican communion asks us to “To respond to human need by loving service”. The parishes have been inspired to consider how to reach out in service to our neighbours who are so much in need while being mindful of the public health orders and the best scientific advice we could find.
All Saints’ Anglican Church (City Hall Square/downtown), St. Augustine of Canterbury Anglican Church (east end/Riverside), and St. James’ Anglican Church (south end/Roseland) were selected for their distributed locations across the city and the convenience of setting up appropriate drive throughs. These parish communities quickly swung unto action and the word got out quickly.
Physical distancing was maintained – just drive up, pop your trunk so we can retrieve your donation and deposit it in the trailer (on loan from the Air Cadets), and depart in peace. No volunteers beyond the three clergy were needed for this pilot run. The logistics were worked out and, when the current emergency passes, training is being contemplated for lay people to take up this ministry, if the need persists. The logistical plans were well thought out and the execution seemed to go off without a hitch.
The community came out in great numbers to support the food drive. It is estimated that half the cars that stopped to make a donation were driven by people with no prior connection to any of the three congregations. Approximately 75 cars attended at the three site food drive.
Also cheques made out to “Unemployed Help Centre” were accepted and turned over to this vital agency serving the hungry of Windsor. A total of $1640 was collected.
The trailer, borrowed from the Air Cadet Squadron, was quite full and we hauled 1900 pounds (862 kilograms) of food to the Centre for immediate distribution.
Plans are in the works now to repeat the “Drive Through Food Drive” in the coming weeks and for the duration of the current pandemic. Also, after this current need passes, we are aware that physical hunger is never fully met in the Windsor area so the combined youth group of St. James, St. Augustine, and All Saints’ has expressed an interest in carrying on the pop-up style food drive. We will also be leading the congregations to live up to the 5th Mark of Mission and advocate for the systemic changes needed to eliminate the need for food banks. If these times have taught us anything, it’s that deep, structural, rapid, and dramatic economic change is possible – the crisis of persistent hunger is also urgent and needs as strong a reaction as the economic crisis brought on by the pandemic.
A video of the system is demonstrated in this video posted to Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/103298176500944/videos/590598918466179/?t=0