Serving up slices of hope to needy
Volunteers hand out 2,000 lunches
‘ It started as a sandwich, it’s turned into human connection’
A Winnipeg teen’s efforts to bring love and hope to the homeless through sandwiches is getting him some national recognition.
Nathan Unrau, 13, was at Siloam Mission on Saturday to hand out 600 lunches he and other volunteers made for his non- profit organization, Lunches with Love. Siloam was one of three stops for Unrau. In total, he dropped off about 2,000 lunches to different homeless shelters.
Unrau said he started Lunches with Love in October 2012, because he wanted to participate in We Day, a yearly event where youth are only allowed to attend if they have contributed to their community in some way.
“You had to earn your way there by doing community service, so I thought this was a great idea, to raise awareness for the homeless,” he said. He brought the idea to his mother, Elise Unrau, and together they made their first batch of 47 sandwiches, which they brought to the Main Street project. Elise Unrau said the idea grew after they saw how important their work was.
“We couldn’t go back to our Charleswood home in winter, in October, start our fireplace and warm up while someone else was living out there,” she said.
Elise Unrau said after they started their Facebook page, people began coming to them to help with the lunches.
“All of a sudden people started finding us, and giving us stuff,” she said.
Eventually they moved to bringing lunches twice a month, something they still do now. In total, Unrau said, they have delivered about 10,000 lunches since October.
Lunches with Love eventually got so big it attracted the attention of Coca- Cola, who asked Unrau to be a part of one of their national campaigns. Together, they made the lunches, and delivered them to the three Winnipeg shelters on Saturday.
Colin Foran, in charge of communtiy and donor relations at Siloam Missions, said lunches brought by volunteers are crucial for the mission.
“On a day like today where we have trouble getting volunteers. This has been a Godsend. Over 80 per cent of our food is donated... so when somebody like Nathan can come along and provide this, it frees up valuable resources,” he said.
Terry Weaymouth was one of those who took part in the lunch. He said he’s relied on the shelter for food since February, and the service the shelter provides is important for him and others. “It’s either this or rob,” he said. Weaymouth said he wishes more people would volunteer their time, not just for campaigns.
“What about tomorrow, what about the next week? We’re still going to need lunch... It doesn’t have to be monetary. It can just be your time,” Weaymouth said.
Nathan Unrau said he is grateful for all the volunteers who have joined him, and all those who have been spreading the word about his efforts.
“It’s really amazing to see these people caring about the homeless. I’m really thankful to the media for giving us attention,” he said.
Elise Unrau said she is thankful for all the volunteers, and amazed with how far Nathan’s project has gone.
“It started as a sandwich, it’s turned into human connection,” she said.