Homeless on Hastings volunteers feed hungry, one sandwich at a time

Group that hands out sandwiches to Downtown Eastside residents originated from Langley in 2011

A charitable project that has its origins in Langley could be re-setting and re-focusing its efforts to help local people who are struggling.

Homeless on Hastings was founded more than six years ago by Langley resident Jackie Maclean.

In its first charity drive, Aug. 28, 2011, volunteers distributed 405 sandwiches to the needy and homeless along Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside (DTES), Canada’s poorest neighbourhood.

Through support of friends, neighbours and colleagues, the Homeless on Hastings group meets on the last Sunday of the month (locally, in the clubhouse of a townhouse complex in Walnut Grove) to make sandwiches which are then distributed to residents of the DTES.

Volunteers hand out anywhere between 1,000 and 1,500 sandwiches during their monthly visits, as well as water, fruit, granola bars, and warm clothes during the winter months.

Visit the group’s Facebook page at Homeless on Hastings.

Moving into 2018, the Langley group will hold a meeting in January, to determine its next step.

“We’ve put (the) January (sandwich drive) on hold at the moment until we make some decisions about moving forward,” said Homeless on Hastings volunteer and co-ordinator Alison Hansen.

“There’s an abundance of service providers on the Downtown Eastside for meals, so one of the things we were looking at is trying to become more of a local, community-based group, because we get all the donations from (the local) Save-On-Foods,” Hansen said. “That would be my hope.”

Hansen said another group member is also looking into the possibility of a Cloverdale community kitchen, through a church in Cloverdale.

Group Has Grown

It was admittedly hard to let go, but Maclean knows Homeless on Hastings is in good hands.

“They have grown,” Maclean said.

“There is a group that have branched off from our (Langley) Homeless on Hastings, and they are doing it from North Vancouver.”

That group distributes sandwiches to the people living on the DTES, on a different Sunday each month.

Maclean said helping people living in the DTES is “such an important need.”

She says the recipients of the good will were, and continue to be, very appreciative of the gesture.

“They are very kind, very thoughtful,” Maclean said. “Some of them have written cards and handed them over the volunteers, so that was very beautiful.”

Maclean is no longer involved with the group, due to her hectic schedule.

“I’ve gotten extremely busy. My business has expanded and the days they were having it I was travelling, so in that sense, I lost the focus and the momentum because I wasn’t physically available,” said Maclean, a licensed hypnotherapist.

“I simply couldn’t keep up.”

The most recent Homeless on Hastings event happened Dec. 17.

“It was cold and it was very wet! As usual so many to feed,” the group’s Facebook post reads.

“The homemade chicken and veggie soup also helped with the cold. We even sent a task force to bring food to the homeless who were immobile and couldn’t line up.”

The Facebook post thanked the sponsors involved in the drive including: Save On Foods on Cambie, Sweet E’s Darlings Desserts, North Shore Boys Soccer Teams, KKMD Daycare Children and Santa’s Chimney Services.

“Thank goodness for the donation of socks, gloves, jackets, sweaters, shoes and blankets it was definitely needed today!

We even divided and conquered as our Langley Group fed the homeless in Whalley today.”

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