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Chris Salomons - Red Deer Advocate

As the kitchen coordinator at Potter's Hands, I am witness to plenty of strange, weird, funny, tragic, and wonderful happenings. But the greatest part of this work is the people that I meet. In this blog, I will introduce you to the people and things I observe, experience, and deal with as well as some of our plans for the future.

Red Deer is a city that cares in many ways

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Red Deer Advocate

“I’ve travelled across Canada at least four times, ate at probably every soup kitchen, and stayed at all of the shelters and I’ve yet to find a more generous city than this. There just seems to be something different about this city.” This grizzled 50-ish gentleman flashed a smile and finished off his coffee as he prepared to go to work.

“If my feet would stop itching, I would most likely settle here.”

This is not the first time that I have heard this coming from the clients at the kitchen, and whenever I hear this kind of talk, it warms my heart to be able to be part of a society that cares as much as Red Deer does for those who need the help and care.

Also, this seems to be the time of year that the generosity of people seems to surface more than any other. Why I don’t know, but that’s how it seems to me.

From about the end of September until mid-December, we are flooded with calls from people wishing to donate food, clothing, money, and best of all, their time. One Tuesday, I recorded 46 phone calls and that really says a lot about this area, because some of the calls are from as far away as Coronation in the east and Sundre in the west.

One of the most amazing contributions that we receive is a steady supply of homemade quilt/blankets from a group of ladies in Rocky Mountain House. Every two or three weeks, they bring about a dozen of these beautifully handcrafted quilts, and they are among the most desired contributions by the people from the street.

I will try to list some of the agencies that accept donations so that I don’t have to feel like a jerk for not accepting some of the things people are giving because we don’t handle certain things.

For unopened packages of food: Potter’s Hands, Loaves and Fishes, the Red Deer Food Bank, Berachah Place.

For washed used clothing, furniture and household items: Bibles for Missions Thrift Store, Women’s Outreach, Bargain Treasures, the Salvation Army Thrift Store.

At Potter’s Hands, we do not take clothing or furniture other than gloves/mitts, tuques, and socks.

And, of course, all of the above take pre-laundered money — sorry, bad joke.

That all of these agencies exist is truly amazing, but very seldom do any have to request these donations, and that is what exemplifies the true heart of Red Deer and the surrounding area.

What I have mentioned to this point are tangible items, and for sure they are needed, but the greatest donation of all is the willingness of citizens to take the bull by the horns and donate their time.

One lady who started volunteering a couple of weeks ago comes for two hours and cleans. “I don’t know how you do things, and I don’t have much time, but I know how to clean,” she said. So clean she does; no time wasted, just get after it.

I just stand back in amazement at this type of attitude and willingness.

So once again, Red Deer, you have proven yourself to be a generous loving people, and may God bless you for it.

Chris Salomons is kitchen co-ordinator for Potter’s Hands ministry in Red Deer.

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