Out of the Cold ProgramSt. Michael's Cathedral Parish Hall
As a movement we strive to offer the youth enrolled into our programs the opportunity to serve others in some sort of a meaningful, supervised and constructive manner, to make a positive difference by bringing the light of Jesus into the lives of others.
In a city as large as Toronto there are many people who are far less fortunate than the majority of its citizens, people who look to others that have plenty to share in some sort of a tangible way.
We try to remember what Jesus said in (Matthew 35)," I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me a drink", and in (Matthew 40) "I tell you, whenever you did this for one of the least important of these followers of mine, you did it for me" in this and other like service opportunities.
For a number of years dedicated volunteers staff the parish hall of St. Michael's Cathedral every Friday night for what is known as the Out of the Cold Program to offer a free dinner, an opportunity to get out of the cold and for some to spend the night not having to find a piece of the street to sleep on before receiving a warm breakfast Saturday morning from early November to late March.
These dedicated loving and passionate volunteers from all areas of the faith community man the kitchen by preparing the meals, serve the food to upwards of 200 clients over two meal settings and housing up to 60 or so people for an overnight stay on mattresses placed on the floor along with a dry warm blanket to wrap themselves in for the night's stay.
December 21st... only a short 4 days away from Christmas was a perfect opportunity for our Explorers along with one Timber Wolf to travel down bearing gifts so generously donated by the many families in our FNE Explorer movement in the form of cup cakes, Christmas tree decorations, and a large number of new warm socks.
We assisted in serving food, clearing tables, leading interested clients in decorating the Christmas tree (a donated live large tree), taking down tables, sweeping up the floor, placing down mattress pads onto the floor and handing out some of the socks so generously donated. The organizers of this not for profit volunteer service are thrilled with the awesome generosity from the many families who donated socks such that there are enough to hand out socks to those most in need from now till late February or even into late March. Clients who received socks from our youth that evening expressed many thanks and often ended the thank you with a "God Bless You."
So was it all worth the time and effort? You bet it was, our youth and their leaders went home knowing that they did their best to reach out and help others while appreciating the fact that that those who we encountered that are facing difficult times continue to value life, trust in the Lord, seek friendship or someone to simply listen to their stories, all while being polite and appreciative.
Thank you Lord for those who offer this service week after week and for the opportunity for us to serve others in some small way. Thank you also for those families who so generously supported this service opportunity. We all returned home knowing that serving others and giving to others is often much more rewarding then to receive or be served by others and in today's society for many of us that is an unknown notion.
Group Leader - FNE Explorers