Hope in Action
It may take a village to raise a child, but it takes many more people to run Ray of Hope! From corporate partners like COBS Bread (featured in this issue), to individual volunteers, to donors who send us $10 a month to feed hungry people, we appreciate every one!
Because what WE do is only possible because of what YOU do. Thank you!!
Baking a difference
It’s closing time at COBS Bread and the last customers are leaving with their purchases. But they aren’t the only ones who’ll be enjoying fresh-baked bread tomorrow. Before the evening is out, dozens of loaves and other goods will be on their way to people in need.
That’s because COBS donates all of its unsold merchandise to local agencies (including Ray of Hope) that distribute the products through meal and hamper programs.
COBS Bread is part of an Australian bakery franchise that started as a family business and now has more than 700 locations worldwide. And every single location runs an end-of-day giving program that benefits hungry people.
An underlying need
Steff Steers owns and operates the COBS location at the Boardwalk in Waterloo. As someone who’s lived in Kitchener-Waterloo “forever”, she knows that while our community is an affluent one compared to some, there’s an underlying need.
“You don’t see it on every corner, but it definitely exists,” she says.
That’s why she’s proud to be part of an organization that give back to the community. Her bakery has partnerships with seven local agencies, each of which receives a weekly donation of baked goods worth $1,000 to $1,200 on average.
Not every agency can be an end-of-day partner, though. There’s an interview process to ensure that the organizations have the capacity to receive and distribute the products as soon as possible.
“You want to have an organization that’s going to have a significant reach. It’s a pretty substantial donation that we’re providing; the agencies need to be able to handle that,” Steff says.
Organizations need dedicated volunteers who are able to transport the donated goods. And because the products are prepared without preservatives, the agencies also need to be able to distribute the products the next day or have freezer capacity to store them.
“We want to make sure that people receive top-quality product that’s as fresh as fresh can be because that’s what we’re all about,” she says.
Investing in her community
“I get a real sense of satisfaction through helping the community I do business in. I’ve even had customers thanks me personally because they or someone they know have been on the receiving end of giving programs like ours.”
While not every food retailer is able to donate unsold merchandise, Steff encourages those that can to explore ways to share food, rather than simply discarding it. Not only is giving personally rewarding, it makes good business sense.
“Look at it as a way to grow your business. Instead of focussing on giving away X amount of dollars, think of it as investing in your business and community. You get those dollars back tenfold when people choose you because you support these organizations,” she says.
“It’s the right thing to do.”
"I never expected...": A volunteer's story
The following was written by a Ray of Hope volunteer:
When I started volunteering with Ray of Hope seven years ago, I thought I knew what to expect. But I was wrong.
As a volunteer, I never expected to experience so much. I never expected to meet people from all over the world. I never expected to learn how to say “hello” in Chinese or how to make Polish bigos. I never expected that the people I met would be so much like me.
I never expected that serving at Ray of Hope would become a high point of my week. I never expected that guests would become friends. That they’d trust me with their names and stories.
I never expected how much I’d look forward to seeing them each week, to hear the news or a new joke. I never expected to miss them so much when they weren’t there. And I never expected, when work or school or illness kept me away from my shift, that I’d be missed, too.
When I joined Ray of Hope, I expected to give. But I never, ever expected to receive so much.
We could not care for the people we serve without the help of our volunteers. If you’d like to learn more about volunteering with us, please visit our Volunteer Services web page.