Back in March, one of our volunteers, Michael Dyet, had written an article about his experiences helping out on a Project417 Sandwich Run to the homeless on the streets of Toronto – certainly one of the most insightful commentaries I’ve seen regarding our work with the homeless. Michael’s church, North Bramalea United Church, have been long time partners with Project417 – Ekklesias Inner City Ministries. They bring a group of enthusiastic volunteers down to help the homeless every year, usually in the depths of winter when our volunteer ranks thin down. I remember Michael’s group as being very engaged in the street outreach we hosted for them – you could tell they were establishing a real communication with our homeless friends – not just “doing good works”. I published Michael’s article on the Project417 website and submitted it to the online editor of Christianity.ca, (a ministry of the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada – EFC), and they agreed and re-printed the piece giving important exposure to the plight of the homeless in Toronto.
Visit Project417.com soon to register your group. Remember, we are not limited to church groups, anyone can help. Homelessness affects our whole community and Christianity has no monopoly (nor should it) on charitable works. Some of our more effective and regular groups include the cast of We Will Rock You, the popular Toronto musical and Meet Market Adventures, a singles networking club. If you’d just like to join in yourself with one of our scheduled groups, you can visit our online calendar at
Read Michael’s article, below, at christianity.ca –
Sandwich Run in the “Big Smoke”
A group of volunteers visit the downtown core of Toronto to give out bag lunches to the homeless and to learn about life.
by Michael Dyet
The outing begins in the late afternoon at our church where the bag lunches are made and packed. The mood is festive and friendly although there is an undercurrent of uncertainty about the experience we are about to have. We move to the sanctuary for a briefing of how the night will unfold and a moment of prayer. Then we split into carpools and head for the “Big Smoke” – Toronto!
7:15 finds the twenty-two of us behind a mission at Harbord and Spadina shuffling in the 10-degree cold to keep warm. One of the trip leaders gives a short talk about what we are about to see, the root causes, the do’s and don’tsWe learn that many of the homeless people in Toronto are not from the city. They migrate there from surrounding municipalities – Mississauga, Brampton, Markham, Barrie – believing that there is more for them in the downtown core. We learn that some arrive here not by choice. Bused in from the affluent Peel Region where only 200 shelter beds exist in an area that supports a population of one million plus. [ eds note – Peel just slashed the number of beds to 100 ] Bused in and dropped off at a shelter. But there is no bus to take them back the next day. Welcome to the streets of Toronto. I wonder…
What kind of social safety net operates on the “out of sight, out of mind” principle?
The leader warns us that we might encounter some “NIMBYs” who will tell us we can’t give out food in their neighbourhood. We learn that NIMBY is an acronym for “not in my backyard”. They believe that giving food to people living on the streets enables and encourages them to be homeless. I wonder…
What kind of willful ignorance does it take to believe that anyone would actually choose to be homeless? …