Volunteers delivered edible post-Christmas presents to grateful residents of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside on Dec. 30.
The group, led by organizer Jackie Maclean, handed out 883 homemade sandwiches to people who call one of Canada's poorest neighbourhoods home.
The 23 volunteers also distributed water, soft fruit, granola bars, and winter clothes to people on Hastings Street.
Maclean said it "sure felt like Santa had arrived."
It was dry but chilly day, and even though the temperatures reached about 9ºC, Maclean said her hands were frozen.
"How do these people manage to survive, I often ask myself.
I was only there for an hour," Maclean said. "Think about them in the rain and the freezing cold, day after day."
The Langley group handed out heaps of ham sandwiches, along with peanut butter and jam sandwiches.
Volunteers Sharon and Pat McGinnis also came through with special homemade egg sandwiches.
"Sharon painstakingly and lovingly made these from boiling 60 eggs," Maclean reported.
Because of the number of volunteers, it took an hour-and-a-half to make the sandwiches.
"The sandwich-making sure was fun," Maclean said. "I could hear lots of laughter and see beautiful smiles." Corporate and individual support makes this monthly charity event a success, Maclean said.
The bread was supplied by A Bread Affair, and she said there were "generous donations" of bottled water, oranges, bananas, and used clothes.
Stone Lee from Willowbrook Produce donated oranges and bananas. Canadian Tire Langley gave 10 sleeping bags recently.
"Celina Jhajj from Port Moody. dropped off tons of bottled water," Maclean added.
The Valley Women's Network day chapter donated gifts packs that included socks and toiletries.
Maclean, a local hypnotherapist who leads the monthly sandwich drive, was overwhelmed by the generosity.
"It was really exciting," she said. "So fabulous. People are understanding that we need to do something. We can't expect others to do it, like politicians."
One of the volunteers Makayla Vandermark, joined her mom Sheila. Makayla, who attends Grade 9 at Clayton Heights Secondary in Surrey, mentioned bringing some of her friends to this month's event.
Maclean's ultimate goal is to get businesses and more volunteers involved to make twice-a-month trips to east Vancouver.
She celebrated her one year anniversary of the drive over the summer, and over that time, has built up a rapport with some of the people.
"I'm seeing many of the same smiling faces," she said. "We're beginning to have conversations, now. I had a guy saying that he wants to write a book about what I do."
The backbone is the volunteer group, many of whom come back each month.
"What would we do without our kind, generous volunteers - these very thoughtful people who give of themselves and their time?" Maclean asked.
The next Feeding the Hungry and Homeless on Hastings is set for Sunday, Jan. 27.
Maclean is accepting donations of bottled water, lunch meat, peanut butter, jam, soft fruit, and granola bars, winter clothes (wool socks, jackets, sweaters), and bedding including sleeping bags. To donate or for more information on how to volunteer, email Maclean at info@ thepowerwithin.ca. You can visit the project's website at www. homelessonhastings.com.