Volunteers in Williams Lake have been pouring their hearts and souls into a project this winter which sees old linens turned into blankets, burp cloths and more to be sent overseas to families in need.
“Nobody is paid … It’s all run by volunteers. You have to have it in your heart to do it … We’re there to help those people,” said Bel Hume, who volunteers with Canadian Food For Children (CFFC).
CFFC was founded by Joan and Andrew Simone after they began working with Mother Teresa in the 1980s. At Mother Teresa’s request, they sent food to drought-stricken countries like Tanzania and Ethiopia, where people suffered from malnutrition.
Along with caring for the poor, the Simones raised 13 children and many foster children, all while Andrew worked as a dermatologist and together, they formed CFFC as a charity in 1985. Today, they send food to over 18 developing countries.
CFFC also sends hospital supplies (bandages, scissors, respiratory items, etc.), clothing, baby items, sewing machines, toys and more.
Hume first connected with CFFC after hearing about them through the Seniors Activity Centre, where she met Joan and Andy Bisson, a couple who would drive up from Merritt to collect items for transportation. At the time, Hume worked as an LPN at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital.
“I was already seeing the waste. You don’t want all that stuff to go in the garbage. Why can’t it be used by people that are not able to provide for themselves?”
She and others at the hospital started collecting items, placing them in a third-world storage area where they’d later get shipped out, including hospital beds and stretchers.
Shipping isn’t cheap. Hume said the shipping containers used to cost around $2,000 but now cost between $4,000 to $6,000 one way. Sending them back costs the same amount, so Dr. Simone decided to leave these shipping containers in developing countries to serve as homes for people.
“Can you imagine having a cardboard house and then having a trailer like that fit a whole family in there?” said Hume.
Hume, now retired, dedicates much of her time to CFFC. “It’s really surprising because you hear people say they don’t know what they want to do when they retire. Well, why not help somebody that cannot help themselves?”
She loves volunteering and having a friend over for tea while they sew together.
Some projects include sewing bed skirts onto T-shirts children can wear as dresses. They make pneumonia vests for children, which keep them warm when they get sick. A flannel blanket will be paired with a plastic picnic cloth, sewn and used as a changing pad for babies. Curtains become tote bags, and pillow cases become receiving blankets. If not for the blankets these families receive, their babies are sent home wrapped in newspaper.
Another project involves cutting old T-shirts into one-inch strips and then wrapping the strips around themselves enough times to make a ball for children to play with. It doesn’t matter if the shirts are stained. You don’t notice once they’re wrapped into balls.
They also take tuna and salmon cans and make candles with them. Hume mostly does this project in the summer, when she lets the sun melt the wax and pours them into the cans. Finally, she adds a zinc core wick and the candles are shipped out and used as lights, as most don’t have electricity.
The volunteers are innovative, knitting hats and repairing old sewing machines they can send to schools where kids and families can learn how to sew. Whatever else is donated to the organization, they make use of it.
CFFC is always looking for volunteers and appreciates the help in whatever form it comes. To get involved, contact Bel at (250) 398-8740 or one of the other local volunteers, Anna May, at (250) 392-2752.
You can also donate items to CFFC by taking them to Carolyn’s Closet. The items must be boxed and visibly labelled “Canadian Food For Children,” where they will be set aside until they can be picked up for transportation.
To learn more about CFFC, their website is www.canadianfoodforchildren.org.
Do you have a comment about this story? email:
Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter