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Organizations hosting holiday meal events cope with increasing costs, demand


Plans to make the holiday season a little happier for the homeless are underway as organizers of several Christmas Day events in Windsor contend with increasing costs and demand.

It’s the second year John Hanchar has helped organize the “Not Alone for Christmas” turkey dinner at Westminster Church for the afternoon of December 25th, saying donations are still welcome to make it a success.

“A lot of people are struggling right now financially, emotionally, physically because of the way the economy and everything is right,” Hanchar said.

“It’s the mental aspect. It's all the mental and physical, you don't know where you're going to sleep, where you're going to eat, how cold is going to be outside.”

Hanchar explained he knows very well the hardships of not having a home, having just recently found a new place to live after couch surfing while marking two years of sobriety this Christmas Eve.

“It's tough and people don't really understand what the homeless go through and it's on a daily basis they struggle. I know I struggled for that month,” he said. “I made this event so people don't have to be alone for Christmas.”

Hansar said during its inaugural year, just six people attended, noting more than 100 people are already expected this year. He noted eight turkeys have already been donated along with several gifts and prizes, but that more donations will probably be needed and can be arranged by emailing

“It's open to anybody,” Hanchar continued. “Seniors, single moms, single dads or kids, homeless. “I'm just doing it from the bottom of my heart.”

“I thank you to all our people who donated already. All the businesses that donated. Thank you very much. This event is going to be a success and you're going to put a lot of smiles on people's faces for Christmas.”

Officials with Feeding Windsor-Essex told CTV News that demand for their programs has nearly tripled since this time last year, including those needing the food bank, after school meals and meals that are distributed to the less fortunate through the Soup Shack.

“It was a year ago in November that we opened and we were getting 35-40 people now we're getting 135-140 you know so it's almost tripled,” director Rodger Fordham said.

Fordham explained they typically deliver 1,000 meals in the week leading up to Christmas over the last 10 years but that this year demand has pushed that number up close to 2,200.

“This year we spent over $350,000 on just food, just raw food. We put out 186,000 meals last year and we're gonna put out about 225-240 (thousand) at that range will finish up this year.”

Fordham noted roughly 60 turkeys will be needed for this year’s efforts and donations are always welcome.

“I looked at turkeys the first day they came in and they had $70 and $80 price tags on them,” he said.

Meanwhile, plans are also coming together to feed those in need at Street Help on Wyandotte Street East during the holidays.

Administrator Christine Wilson-Furlonger said Ryli Michalczuk’s annual holiday pizza party is happening on Dec. 23, and that volunteers will be handing out food on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

“The holidays encompass several days so it's a season, it's a holiday season so, any of those days that we can make special, we do,” Wilson-Furlonger said.

“It's nice to be able to still go and get something really special to eat. It's a time of really deep depression and sadness for a lot of people and if we can stick together as family, for each other and for others that makes it all the more of what I consider a safe holiday for all of us.” Top Stories

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