American author and public speaker, Bob Goff was famously quoted on Twitter, “Everyone’s got an opinion; be an example.”
According to one area resident, being an example includes engaging in the Christian teaching of feeding the hungry.
Since November of 2020, Leona Dubois has been preparing bubbling pots of hot food in her home kitchen and taking them to out into the community to share with anyone who is hungry. Dubois is not affiliated with any charity and she is not acting on the behalf of any church. According to Dubois, God has put it in her heart to prepare and share food, and she is simply answering the call.
On a brisk January day in Kamsack, Dubois and two of her friends, Mary Hare and Susan Michl stood behind the tailgate of a pick-up truck on Main Street. Bundled up in thick coats and hats, with only thin latex food service gloves on their hands, the three women braved the cold for more than an hour, offering a warm midday meal to anyone passing by.
The lid of a large pot released a puff of steam into the frosty air every time Dubois scooped out a serving of her piping, homemade spaghetti. Alongside Dubois, Hare would collect a plastic fork, napkin, and dinner bun to accompany each serving. On the sidewalk nearby, Michl stood at a fold-out table that had been adorned with cookies, muffins, and banana bread. A stack of colourful, handmade fleece scarves (which Dubois had received as a donation) were set out on the table of sweets – free to take, for anyone who could use a bit of warmth.
Some people would walk up to the hot lunch from familiar Kamsack loitering circles down the street. Some would roll up in cars while passengers hopped out to get food for family members waiting in their vehicles. Others would pull right up to the tailgate food service and simply roll down a window for an impromptu type of drive-through service. No matter who approached or in what manner, the women offered warm smiles and unrestricted food service. Despite no rules or limits on who could eat, each interested patron seemed to take just enough for themselves - and sometimes a family member - all the while, expressing gratitude toward the women.
A young woman collecting goodies from the baking table said, “You ladies are amazing. God bless you for doing this.”
“You have a beautiful and blessed day,” Dubois responded with a grin.
When Dubois saw a man approaching her from across the street, she called out, “Today is spaghetti. Would you like some?” The man nodded. As she handed him a heaped serving in a Styrofoam cup, the stranger discreetly slipped a folded twenty dollar bill into her hand. She smiled and thanked him, and he quietly went on his way.
“This happens often,” confided Dubois. “It has been unbelievable. We don’t ask for any of it. People just want to support what we are doing.”
After gathering enough food for herself and her son, a woman placed two five-dollar bills on the table.
“That’s all I got,” the woman said. “Thank you guys so much for doing this. I didn’t have the energy to cook anything today.”
When the flow of hungry people slowed down, the women explained how they came together in the initiative to feed people in the downtown area.
Dubois said that she awoke one morning at her home in B.C. and the word “Kamsack” came to mind. She decided to Google the name and discovered it was a small town in Saskatchewan that she had never been to and knew nothing about. Leaning on her faith, Dubois would soon pack up and move to the town, despite having no friends or family in the area.
Dubois invited her grandchildren to live with her so they could make a fresh start in their lives. She has been a Kamsack resident for over four years now. Recently, her good friend Mary Hare decided to follow her lead when she also moved to town in September.
“I actually met Mary when I was living in B.C.” said Dubois. “We were both living off-grid, out in the bush. My closest neighbour was eight kilometres away. One day, I took a drive out to meet my neighbour and it was Mary who invited me in. We’ve been great friends since.”
Hare asked if Dubois might help her find an affordable house in town. Dubois consulted her granddaughter for assistance. In just two days, her granddaughter, Bria, had not only found her a place to live, but the homeowner had decided to gift the property to Hare.
“You know, I had lived in Saskatchewan before. There was a time when I gave away my home in Buchanan” said Hare. “It just goes to show – what goes around, really does come around.”
Dubois says the friendship between her and Hare includes a kindred appreciation for the Bible and they get together to read and enjoy a fellowship in faith. Susan Michl, a Canora resident of ten years, has also bonded with the women over shared Christian values.
Dubois’ granddaughter was driving taxi when she struck up a conversation with her passenger about her grandmother. The man suggested her grandmother might get along well with Michl on account of similar beliefs. While the stranger remains unknown, the women did eventually connect and the friendship has since blossomed. Dubois, Hare and Michl all hope to work together and continue feeding folks for as long as there is a need. Currently, the trio is serving hot lunch, twice a week, to an average of 30 people.
“I was cooking chili for my grandchildren and the pot just kept getting bigger and bigger. I said to myself, I bet there are people out there who would love to share in this. So I just went out and offered what I could, and the support has been amazing,” said Dubois. “We are now receiving donations from all kinds of people who want to take part in the giving. We are expecting another donation to come in soon – a shipment of Bibles. Once they arrive, we look forward to handing them out, along with a hot lunch, to anyone interested in taking one.”
“Thank you for all that you’re doing,” called a young man from down the street.
“It’s not us,” said Dubois, motioning to the sky. “It’s Him. He provides it all. We are just the conduits.”