With over 14,000 meals served to Edmonton’s homeless community since 2017, Santa YEG ready to do it’s part once again
Santa YEG is pleased to announce the “Delivering Compassion” campaign is back again in 2019. Since 2017 the delivering compassion campaign has gathered volunteers from across Edmonton to prepare fresh meals and hand deliver them to members of Edmonton’s homeless community during the holiday season.
More than meals, Santa YEG’s efforts are intended to spread love and compassion to all community members, especially those who face extreme obstacles and poverty every single day.
“Edmonton is filled with kind and generous people, many who work all year round to help those in need,” said Santa YEG Founder Jeff Tetz, “we’re just trying to make a small impact and do our part to lighten the load, even just a little bit.”
Santa YEG organizers have another motive as well; make it easy for Edmontonian’s to help those in need. Volunteers can sign up for “Compassion Nights” to help with meal prep and/or food deliveries.
“Compassion nights are incredibly meaningful experiences,” says Tetz, “we have people of all ages who help out, including kids, and the experience of handing a complete stranger on the streets a meal that you just prepared with your own hands is a human connection that money can’t buy.”
The 2019 campaign officially kicks off on December 4th. For those wanting more information or to sign up to volunteer, you can email the organizers at santaYEG@outlook.com .
It’s a crisp late afternoon in early December. Remaining daylight is has given way to the onset of night-time but not before a bright orange slit of a gorgeous winter sunset blazes across Edmonton’s winter sky. A subtle reminder that Summer, at some point, will return to warm the frigid air.
The city streets are bustling with purposeful drivers as the work day has ended and you, a first time Santa YEG volunteer, have just parked your car outside of Santa YEG’s headquarters. You turn off the ignition, sigh a deep breath and approach the front door with some trepidation and nervousness as you’re not sure just quite what to expect.
To your wonderment, as you step inside, you immediately feel warmth. Over the loud sounds of people who have gathered to prepare food you can hear Christmas music, laughter and the delightful wafting of baking cookies; a memory that quickly takes you back to your own childhood.
Everyone is smiling and welcoming and before long you find yourself donning sanitary gloves in a makeshift assembly line as the sandwich making machine has commenced. Only moments ago an outsider, you’re now part of the delivering compassion family, almost as if you’d been together for years.
Although you had only signed up to prepare food, as you watch the meals being loaded into vehicles for delivery to shelters you feel the urge to join. This is where it really gets interesting.
You’re assigned to one of four caravans with each caravan assigned a specific Edmonton shelter to deliver to. As you arrive at your dedicated shelter behind two other vehicles who make up your caravan you begin to observe a part of Edmonton you’re not accustomed to seeing.
You see throngs of homeless people awaiting entry into the shelter. You see shopping carts with heaping piles of worn clothing, bottles & cans, and other valuable trinkets. You see people with visible physical disabilities. You see old people and young people with ragged clothing and garbage bags flung over their shoulders.
You observe all of this in mere seconds and very quickly you’re overtaken by an all too familiar sense; fear. In that moment you realize you’re about to leave the safety and security of your vehicle and enter this alternate universe that is so foreign to you and far less understood.
What will happen to me? Will I be harmed? I wonder if someone has a knife? What about needles? These are all legitimate questions as your mind is being guided by fear built upon stereotypes that have infiltrated your subconscious through the years.
But perhaps your car is symbolism for a greater fear? Maybe, just maybe, leaving your car means you can never go back. You can’t unsee the seen. You can’t pretend any longer that so many people in our city live in poverty or worse. You cannot, any longer, turn a blind eye to those in need.
You then see an experienced Santa YEG volunteer emerge from their vehicle lifting the hatch to retrieve a medium-sized box filled with 100 hot turkey sandwiches. You breath that same deep sigh you experienced only 90 minutes ago as you reach for your car door handle and nervously give it a pull. One foot hits the pavement, then the other. As the door closes behind you, you realize there’s no turning back.
You quickly join the other volunteers who are approaching the crowds of homeless people with boxes of meals as though they had just arrived at a family gathering with treats and goodies for loved ones. At this point, you’re just observing, taking it all in.
The blurry crowd of people is now replaced by distinct faces and personalities. As the volunteers hand out food to people you start to hear the recipients say things like “Can I get a sandwich for my girlfriend?” “God bless you.” “Merry Christmas” “You people are so kind.” and “Thank you.”
“I was put in the group that went to the Hope Mission. I arrived at the Mission by myself to meet the rest of my group – I must say I was a little nervous about what I was going to experience, and to be honest, my safety. When I arrived, my group had already started giving out the sandwiches, cookies and apple slices to the huge line of people waiting outside of the Mission. Once I started helping with the handing out, my worries and apprehensions went away – the simple humanity of the experience took over. I was touched by the quiet dignity of the people. No one was pushy or greedy, there was just sincere gratitude and concern for others” – Santa YEG Volunteer Lisa Mullen-LaBossiere
You see volunteers and homeless people hugging, laughing, sharing stories, and connecting.
And then it hits you.
That overwhelming feeling of fear that almost prevented you from leaving your car has been replaced……………by LOVE. You are filled, almost overflowing, with love, compassion and gratitude.
As your first delivering compassion experience comes to an end you can’t help but pause for a moment in your vehicle taking it all in. You think about overcoming fear, you think about the exchange of kindness between complete strangers from all walks of life, and you feel a single tear fighting its way to freedom as it slowly trickles down your cheek.
This not a tear of sadness however. This is a tear that only the depths of gratitude can summon. For you are grateful for your life, grateful for the experience, and grateful in the belief that people are inherently good and that we are all equals, no matter how unequal we can first seem, along this journey of life that can lead us down so many paths.
That is what delivering compassion is all about. Our community of compassion deliverers continues to grow because of experiences like these! We’d love to have you join us too.
A year ago this weekend a chance encounter in a Denver hotel gym with Hollywood entertainer Jamie Foxx helped create national awareness for the delivering compassion campaign in Edmonton.
Ever so accommodating, Foxx recorded a short video clip (keep reading to watch it) encouraging people to “get those donations going” toward the Santa YEG delivering compassion campaign. The video went viral and the rest, as they say, is history.
All told, the buzz that Jamie Foxx helped create resulted in almost 8000 meals being served to Edmonton’s less fortunate over a ten-week period from November 2017 to January 2018.
The encounter with Foxx made me realize two important things;
1- Celebrities have enormous power to create awareness and influence. I didn’t realize just how powerful this was until I was caught up in the vortex of media interest and public fascination in the days following the Foxx social media shoutout.
2- Courage is found when your purpose is strong. When I first realized that Foxx was “pumping iron” 3 feet away from me in the hotel gym (I was doing my best to “pump iron” as well but it looked more like “nudging small weights”) my first inclination was to leave him alone mostly based on how nervous I felt to approach him and the belief that you show more strength if you don’t get caught up in the celebrity selfie popularity contest.
My thinking soon changed when it dawned on me that this was a rare opportunity to shine a light on our charitable campaign. In that instant, provided Foxx cooperated, I knew this moment would hit big, helping thousands in the process.
I quickly rehearsed my pitch, approached Foxx with my request to help our charity and the video below was the outcome.
Jamie Foxx gives Santa YEG a shoutout in Denver on Nov 11, 2017
Why did I write this article? Besides being a sentimental soul who likes to reminisce, I believe there’s voice inside us all that’s just dying to be heard but we make up all kinds of excuses not to express it. “I won’t be accepted”, “people will hate the idea”, “I’ll be publicly exposed” are just a few of the self-defeating things we say to ourselves.
But the truth is, the world needs your gifts. The world needs you to take action on the crazy idea you’ve been sitting on that might have the power to make our world just a little bit better.
If you’re struggling to find the courage, like I was, stop thinking about yourself and remind yourself of your purpose, remind yourself of the people you’ll be helping if you take that first courageous step. You won’t regret it, I promise.
Jeff Tetz for Santa YEG
To get involved with our delivering compassion campaign please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at start to change.” – Wayne Dyer
Imagine for a moment you were freezing cold with no warm clothing to speak of, no friends or family to rely on, and a constant growling in your stomach because you can’t remember the last time you had a meal, never-mind when you might get your next one.
Then try to picture, as hard as it might be, how it would feel if a complete stranger approached you with a meal they prepared with their own hands and delivered it to you with a caring, compassionate smile.
How might that make you feel in that moment to know that someone cares? That someone is thinking of you, even in just some small way.
That is why Santa YEG was started; because we believe that when we extend compassion to each other, when we show people love who aren’t used to feeling it, the way they view the world changes and the world changes around them.
Santa YEG is fueled by Edmontonian’s who care about making a difference. So many people and organizations in our City do so much, all year ’round, to help others in need. We are so grateful to join those organizations to do our part in some small way.
For the 2018 campaign we will focus our efforts on feeding Edmonton’s less fortunate and creating meaningful experiences where volunteers prepare meals and serve them to those who need them most.
To join our community of compassion and learn how you can help, please email us at email@example.com or call us at 780-996-8389.