Back in late November, my husband and I were asked to volunteer with a group who make lunches and take them to Winnipeg homeless shelters. We had nothing to do that Saturday so we thought, why not?
Volunteering also included going with the group to drop off the lunches. We dropped them off at the Main Street Project. Both my husband and I left the Main Street Project very humbled. It’s funny how we all know the need is out there but until you’ve actually walked into the trenches so to speak, you truly don’t know how huge the need is.
On the ride home from the Main Street Project, my husband and I talked about what we had just experienced and decided we wanted to do something to help. We thought about what money we spent in a month that we could put to better use to help those who are in need.
We came up with the idea to cook big batches of chili once a month. We knew it wouldn’t cost much and it would be warm and nutritious. We decided we would rally up our friends to donate chili making ingredients to help us out.
After talking about it, we thought why not start a community on Facebook and see if we could rally up more donations from our Winnipeg Facebook friends. Thus, the birth of our non-profit group, “Chili From The Heart” on December 6, 2012.
Chili From The Heart does not accept cash donations. We only accept donations of chili making ingredients. Our goal is to get Winnipegers to take action by donating ingredients. Our hope is to inspire more groups like ours to do the same thing knowing they are putting food straight into the mouths of those most in need.
We were quite amazed at how many people, who were nothing but names and faces on Facebook and who lived in Winnipeg, wanted to donate to our cause. On December 15, 2012, with the help of our kids and a few friends, we cooked up 280 servings of chili along with a donation of 108 buns, and delivered it all to the Main Street Project.
Although our plan was to do another chili cook and donation a month later, the donations from so many kind hearted people were much more than we had expected. So, we decided with the amount of donations we were receiving, we could cook and deliver chili every two weeks.
As we headed into the middle of December, the weather was so very cold. I started to crochet scarves and thought, maybe there are others out there who enjoy crocheting and knitting, so we put a call out on our Chili From The Heart page asking for donations of warm winter wear as well. We asked for adult sized coats, hats, scarves and mitts.
Two weeks later, we did our second chili cook and delivery on December 29th. At that time, we donated 325 servings of chili and buns along with some donated winter wear. We were amazed at how grateful the clients of the Main Street Project were. We entered the building to much applause. So many wanted to say thank you and wish us a happy new year. It was absolutely heart-warming.
We started the chili cooks in our own home kitchen but thanks to some wonderful people we now have the use of an industrial kitchen to do our chili cooks. To date, we along with all the wonderful Winnipegers who have opened their hearts, have not only donated 1330 servings of chili and buns but also 37 winter coats, 51 hats, 59 scarves, 34 pair of mittens and seven sweaters. We are also excited to have inspired another group called Chili Hands, Warm Hearts to take our lead and do the same thing in Portage la Prairie.