The residual effects of the massive fire that ripped through Brandon this spring continue to be felt in the community. Coupled with the usual seasonal demand, there are more people flowing into Brandon’s Helping Hands Centre than they are accustomed to.
That has staff putting the call out for any and all assistance that can be spared from the community at large.
Helping Hands Centre Coordinator Vandana Jamadagni says in the aftermath of the fire downtown, they were preparing upwards of 250 meals a day. That is up substantially from their usual numbers for this time of year.
“Generally the highest our numbers get is 200,” said Jamadagni. “Somewhere between 150 and 200 – these numbers are unusually high.”
She adds that the warmer weather this summer has attracted more people downtown, including new arrivals to Canada. All this has led to a perfect storm where the demand has put a strain on staff and their ability to serve the public.
The Helping Hands Centre, located at 111 7th St in Brandon, is known as a soup kitchen, where hot meals are served thanks to generous donations from area churches, farmers, businesses, and nearby Hutterite colonies. But Jamadagni says the volunteers really try and provide a hearty, healthy meal to everyone who walks through their doors.
“We serve a three-course meal every (Monday to Friday),” she said. “We are not just soup and sandwiches. We follow Canadian food standards and make sure to offer a serving of protein, vegetables, and carbohydrates.”
Jamadagni stresses that summer is a very busy time for the Brandon Helping Hands Centre, and said any sort of aid would be welcome from the public.
“It’s a very hectic time, with a lot of school children and people who are outside,” she said. “We are looking for any kind of help – from monetary, donations of cash, food, anything.
“And we are looking for people who want to help too.”
The busy coordinator added she really wants to get the word out to people in the Brandon area of what the Helping Hands Centre is all about, and hopes this call for help will get the community energized and engaged.
“People are encouraged to come down and volunteer, or to bring their donations down here and see what we do,” she said.
If you want to help out the Helping Hands Centre, you can contact Jamadagni at 204 727-4635, or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.