SIRCH Community Services has kickstarted its annual ‘Gifts from the Heart’ campaign early, with demand through the organization’s community kitchen program soaring.
Now in its 13th year, the campaign, which traditionally runs in the lead up to the holidays, raises money to sustain SIRCH’s meal preparation and delivery. Volunteers gather weekly at the Bistro in Haliburton to package free, nutritious frozen meals for people across Haliburton County and Bancroft.
Communications lead Angelica Ingram said the non-profit is preparing approximately 1,400 meals, plus soups and desserts, every month. That’s about as many as SIRCH was doing in a full year back when the program launched in 2011.
“We kicked this off so early because there is an urgent need for more funds to sustain the community kitchen program… costs continue to increase, making it more important for the community to donate if they want to see certain programs continue,” Ingram said.
SIRCH also works with 12 partner agencies across the County to ensure those who aren’t aware of the program, but who could benefit, have the option of enrolling.
The Haliburton County Youth Wellness Hub has been one of the main beneficiaries. Over the past year, the organization has handed out roughly 850 frozen meals to clients.
“This program was heavily utilized by families and youth who were grateful to have access to healthy, home cooked meals,” said hub manager Mary Sisson. “Our community benefits a great deal from this program and the difference it makes to children, youth, and families in Haliburton County.”
Ingram said SIRCH also receives goods, and money, directly from local farmers, growers, community partners, and grocers to help keep the program afloat. CanoeFM station manager, Roxanne Casey, attended The Bistro earlier this month to deliver a $5,000 cheque to support the campaign. The money was raised from Canoe’s radio bingo, with SIRCH selected, “based on the great work they do tackling food insecurity,” Casey said.
The community kitchen program is supported entirely by donations and doesn’t receive financial support from any level of government. That’s what makes campaigns like this so important, she added.
“We are very fortunate to live in a caring and compassionate community, where we receive a tremendous amount of support. Fundraisers like this are vital because it’s helping your friends and neighbours. All the money raised goes back into supporting programs and ensuring no one in Haliburton County goes to bed hungry this winter, or that seniors and kids are not malnourished because they don’t have enough money for healthy food after they pay all their other bills.
Ingram added, “we hope the support continues… our goal is to be able to sustain the community kitchen program on a yearly basis.”
For more information, visit sirch.on.ca. To donate, call 705-457-1742, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.