Earlier this year, the Kamsack Times ran a story about a grandmother who was feeding the hungry from her own kitchen in downtown Kamsack.
In the weeks following publication of the story, the volunteer grandmother, Leona Dubois, and the friends who joined her in the service, began to receive phone calls and donations from people who wanted to support the initiative.
“I was blown away,” shared Dubois. “At first, it was a phone call from a gentleman in Yorkton. He said the article was the nicest thing he has read in a long time and wants to bring his wife for a drive to meet us and give a donation!”
But the support didn’t stop there.
“Immediately after the story ran in the paper, we were blessed with several large donations of supplies, cash and canned goods. I am going to have to move out of my home soon just to make room for supplies!” exclaimed Dubois.
Susan Michl of Canora is another volunteer who strives to serve at least one of the two days of the weekly food sharing, on top of her duties as a mother and foster parent.
“Shortly after the story came out, I also started receiving phone calls from people who wanted to make donations,” reported Michl. “I asked how they knew where to find me – and their answer was: the phone book! So, local residents read the story, made the effort to look up my name, and called me to offer support. One woman said she could donate some carrots, and another offered scarves. I was a bit surprised to receive the calls at first, but it’s actually very moving.”
A Facebook group called Feeding the People that was launched by Dubois, has also gleaned a number of comments expressing encouragement and support for the work the women are doing.
“We have received kind and supportive sentiments from many locals, but what was remarkable was seeing that followers were coming from as far as New Zealand and England,” explained Dubois.
“A cash donation came in from one gentleman who is currently fighting cancer and is hospitalized in Regina,” said Dubois. “Another donation came from some folks in Moose Jaw. One local lady made scarves every week until she ran out of material and now has offered to make cookies. Also, there is a local gentleman who makes buns for us on his days off from work.”
And the list goes on.
Dubois continued, “This past Monday, I heard a knock at the door. I opened it to see a local florist holding a bouquet of flowers sent by Leson’s Funeral Home of Canora. Along with the beautiful flowers, the funeral home has offered to sponsor the costs of an entire hot meal service once a month.”
Dubois continued, “Most recently, I made two huge pots of borscht. I thought it might be way too much, but I took both pots downtown anyway. We ended up running out – serving hot meals to 65 people!”
The recent cold snap didn’t stop the ladies from showing up with hot food and fresh baked goods, but Dubois defined it as challenging. From the beginning, Dubois has had the help from her long-time friend, Mary Hare.
“When temperatures dropped really low, it was getting to be a bit much for Mary and I. On those days, we simply decided to sit inside the truck and pass food out the window.”
Dubois says there are so many donations coming in these days that she doesn’t have to purchase much herself. The Keesekoose First Nation and Cote First Nation have both donated food and supplies. A recent meal included roast beef sandwiches. Not only was the roast beef donated, but the artisan bread, made in a wood fire oven, was donated from a bakery making deliveries in the region.
While the women are happy to feed anyone who comes by, they are also willing to offer friendship and prayers.
“Feeding the body is one thing,” explained Dubois. “But all of our efforts are really about feeding the soul. The Word of God is the bread of life. Some people we meet on the street have asked us for prayers – and Susan is especially good at praying with them while Mary and I keep busy with the food service. We did receive a donation of Bibles that we always bring with us, but we don’t just hand them out to everyone like we do with food. If someone shows real interest in taking one, we are happy to gift them with one.”
Dubois says the generosity she observes in Kamsack is heartwarming.
“When I first moved here, Kamsack didn’t make a great impression on me. Our home was broken into multiple times and items were stolen from our house, our yard, and our basement. Meat was taken from our freezer and I even had hot pies cooling outside that were stolen. It was disheartening,” admitted Dubois.
“However, these days I feel a real change in the spirit around Kamsack. One man stopped to chat on the street, and after some encouragement, he agreed to take some soup. When I handed him the single cup of soup, he handed me $25. It has been nothing short of amazing,” concluded Dubois.