New Year’s Frybread Giveaway calls for donations to help homeless in Downtown Eastside
Update (January 1, 2012): Frybread Giveaway comes back for New Year's Day in Downtown Eastside
As the year comes an end, East Vancouver resident Kat Norris is once again gearing up to raise the spirits of homeless people in the Downtown Eastside.
But the organizer of the New Year’s Frybread Giveaway says she needs the public’s help to make the fifth annual event, taking place today (December 30), a success.
Norris, the founder of the Indigenous Action Movement, told the Straight that any food and cold-weather items that people can donate to the cause will be given out to those in need.
“Some people just pick up boxes of cookies or muffins, or they’ll make cupcakes,” Norris said by phone. “They’ll stop at Army & Navy or a dollar store and pick up a bunch of gloves or toques, especially socks—anything that people that are down and out, people that are homeless can make use of, especially something that they don’t get very often.
“Sometimes families will get together, and they’ll make sandwiches to bring down. So, it can be anything a member of the homeless community, that would fill their tummies. Anything that could help to keep them warm in this cold weather would come in handy.”
In addition to backpacks, blankets, jackets, toiletries, and food, the New Year’s Frybread Giveaway also needs baking supplies, such as all-purpose flour, baking powder, and cooking oil.
Items may be dropped off at the Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood House (573 East Hastings Street) and the Aboriginal Front Door Society (384 Main Street) until 4 or 5 p.m. The event is being held in partnership with those organizations and the Indian Residential School Survivors Society.
Cooks will be at both locations, making soup and frybread, while others will be whipping up frybread at home. Norris noted that around 30 volunteers help put on the event every year.
One year, they handed out goods to about 1,000 people over 12 hours, according to her. This year, the giveaway will take place between 3 and 5 p.m.
“This is the favourite event of many of us,” Norris said. “The very time I decided to do it was at New Year’s, and it was just simply because I thought, ‘Well, they don’t get to celebrate down there, so why not bring the celebration to them? They don’t get frybread very often. It’s a treat for them. So, why not bring a little bit of home to them as well?’”
Norris recalled that one time a family showed up with 200 cupcakes. Whenever volunteers are getting low on needed supplies, someone seems to arrive with them, she mused.
For this year's giveaway, Wolf Pack Designs, a First Nations clothing company, has contributed T-shirts and toques.
Norris said she’s thankful for everyone who has volunteered and donated over the years.
“There’s been hundreds of people,” Norris said. “A lot of the same people help out every year.”