By Andrea Prazmowski –
Religious leaders from across Ottawa gathered around a tower of empty boxes on May 3 and imagined them overflowing with generous donations of food for the Ottawa Food Bank. Representing many faith groups and reflecting the diversity of our city, they came together to launch the first ever city-wide inter-faith food drive, to take place on Mother’s Day weekend.
Places of faith across the city will receive food donations on May 12, 13 and 14 and deliver them to the Ottawa Mosque on Northwestern Avenue, where they will be sorted and then delivered to the Ottawa Food Bank.
“The Good Samaritans Inter-Faith Food Drive shows inter-faith solidarity at a time of increased religious intolerance,” said Daniel Stringer, a Kitchissippi community leader who initiated the idea and is managing the food drive along with his wife, Blandine Stringer. He had first presented the idea at a meeting of faith leaders, called together by Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna after the killings at a Quebec City mosque in January. Faith leaders responded positively, and more than a dozen of them were on hand to officially launch the Good Samaritans Inter-faith Food Drive last week, at Christ Church Cathedral on Sparks St.
“We come together to join hands to feed the hungry in our community,” said Rev. Joanne Lam of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. “We want to get together not only when there are atrocities. We can make a larger impact when we stand together.”
“This is a moment in history that demands that religious groups put minds and hands and hearts together and tell the world that it is not religions that negatively impact the world but people who do not understand their religion who negatively impact the world,” said Imam Zijad Delic of the South Nepean Muslim Community.
Community members are asked to bring donations of non-perishable food to their place of worship on the Mother’s Day weekend, on May 12, 13 or 14. Volunteers at each place of worship will deliver the donations to the parking lot of the Ottawa Mosque at 251 Northwestern Ave., at Scott St., where they will be sorted prior to delivery to the Ottawa Food Bank. There will be people ready to receive the donations on Friday, May 12 from 3 pm to 7 pm; Saturday, May 13 from noon to 7 p.m., and Sunday, May 14 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Volunteers are needed to act as “ambassadors” within their place of worship and also to help at the Ottawa Mosque to receive and sort the donations. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Daniel Stringer at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 613 218-1431. You could also just show up to pitch in at the Ottawa Mosque during the hours listed above. Anyone is welcome to donate and to volunteer; there is no need to be a member of a faith group.
“It seems like the time is right for this,” noted Daniel. “People want to show solidarity. Plus we knew the food bank needed to stock up on food before the summer.”
The Ottawa Food Bank offers donors this list of the foods and baby items which are most needed:
- Canned fish, meats and stews
- Peanut butter
- Cereal (whole grains)
- Dry pasta and sauce
- Baby formula and diapers
A number of Kitchissippi faith leaders are involved in the Good Samaritans Leadership Mosaic, including Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey, Parkdale United Church; Rev. John Wilker-Blakley, All Saints’ Anglican Church, and Sister Nazira Tareen, of the Ottawa Muslim Women’s Organization. The project is being carried out in partnership with the Capital Region Interfaith Council.