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Grassroots Group Supporting Winnipeggers Any Way They Can

The end of the year can be an exciting moment for many—gifts, food, family and friends. However, that’s not the case for everyone.

15.9% of households in the ten provinces were food-insecure in 2021. That number can only have grown as things have gotten even harder for families. In Winnipeg, Peg City Kindness Crew is helping out in whatever ways it can.

Now an officially recognized non-profit, the grassroots movement first started during the height of the pandemic with a mission to help those struggling. That mission holds even more accurate now as Winnipeggers feel the challenges of housing, wages, and skyrocketing prices at the grocery store. During the holiday season, Peg City Kindness Crew collected food donations and delivered around 190 Christmas hampers to families in need.

“It was a bit of a frantic scramble in the end. It always is,” says co-founder Jai. “The last day or two, we’re always like, oh no, there’s not enough milk, we don’t have enough eggs, we need these things to make this happen before Christmas.”

This Christmas was contesting for many, with the Winnipeg Christmas Cheer Board receiving thousands of requests for hampers – thirteen thousand within the first two weeks. Jai knew Peg City Kindness Crew would be busy. Although processing and finding the items necessary for hampers is hard work, Jai says the volunteers and team call it ‘heart work.’

“To help other people as we too have been helped. Which is why it’s so close to our hearts.”

For many of the hampers this year, although there were donations from local grocers and independent donations monetarily or for food items. However, certain foods, such as turkey, were only possible for some hampers, and the alternative was ham. This could have been better, says Jai, as many families don’t consume pork and try to keep their holiday hampers non-denominational. “We do our best, and some got chicken thighs and things like that. It was very much slim pickings in terms of proteins and trying to get something to folks.”

Peg City Kindness Crew isn’t solely invested in holiday support, focusing on harm reduction year-round. Everyone at Peg City Kindness Crew is passionate about the work they do. Whether it’s the board, team members, or volunteers, all are excited to make a difference and have difficult conversations. Often these conversations revolve around the importance of access to food and pricing food appropriately during hard times. These conversations can then happen with family members and friends on what’s affecting our communities and city, whether that’s conversations on food access, addictions, housing, homelessness, health care, or child care. People are struggling with these aspects of life, and as a community, we must find ways to support each other.

“People need to start thinking about taking care of others and the people around them,” says Jai. “In harm reduction, what many of us look at is hurt people take care of hurt people. Sex workers take care of sex workers, and people who consume anything take care of those who consume anything. People need to stop and take a minute and think about the world around them and the people around them.”

Recovering from addiction, Jai is very aware of the toll it can take on oneself and those around them and the support and individual effort it takes during recovery. Jai says even if you don’t struggle with substance abuse, you may know someone who does, but you may not realize it. It’s essential to stop and listen to those around you, and when people come to you for help, support the best you can and avoid judgement or negative casting towards those struggling.

We’re facing turbulent times, and the path forward is uplifting, supporting our communities, standing united, and fighting for positive changes for all. Peg City Kindness Crew continues to work towards those goals. When those in their community struggled financially, so did they, but they were not deterred. The non-profit is looking for government grants so they can take part in bigger broadscale programs for their community.

– Ryan Funk, U Multicultural

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of U Multicultural

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