The Salvation Army Caring Place is falling short on a key ingredient for its annual Christmas dinner, which is expected to feed 300 people this year.
Only four turkeys out of the 30 needed have been purchased, and if donations don’t pour in over the weekend, the shelter will have to dip into funds set aside for programs that help the homelessness, single mothers and addicts.
“The money that would be used to buy turkeys will directly affect the bottom line of The Caring Place’s ability to provide other services year-round,” said Amelia Norrie, public relations co-ordinator for The Caring Place.
“The dinner isn’t just for the homeless; it’s a place where people who are alone on Christmas are welcome to enjoy a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, as well as to feel included and loved.”
This year, the shelter, located on Lougheed Highway at 222nd Street, will provide more than 100,000 meals to the hungry and more than 30,000 nutritious bagged lunches for school-aged children.
Maple Ridge was the only municipality in Metro Vancouver, where the number of homeless people increased in the past three years.
One hundred and two people were found to be homeless in Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows during the 2011 Greater Vancouver Homeless Count conducted in March. That is up from 90 in 2008.
Of the 102 – 40 were housed in emergency shelter facilities, while one person was listed as having no fixed address.
The shelter’s 25 year-round, seven-day beds remain full while 30 additional cold-wet weather mats, added annually from November to March, are 60 per cent occupied, with an average of 20 people a night taking advantage of a warm place to sleep since they opened.