Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Feed The Masses, Feed The Soul

Last week Because Edmonton Cares had the privilege of volunteering at the Edmonton Food Bank. In the past we have helped the Food Bank by collecting food and tickets at Heritage Days but this was our first experience in the Food Bank itself.

Our team got to spread out and do various jobs. Some of our volunteers sorted incoming donations, some shucked corn, and I got to pack outgoing food boxes. As one of our volunteers said 'it's like grocery shopping, but for hours on end!'

After our volunteering a representative of the Food Bank took us on a tour of the warehouse and it was enlightening to learn more about what they do and who they serve. Did you know that the Edmonton Food Bank has over 190 spots you can pick up food from? And that through those agencies they serve more that 15,000 people a month. To me the most sobering stat is the fact that approximately 40% of those they serve are children under the age of 18.

The Food Bank is supported through the United Way but they receive no government funding. Generally they need to purchase between $500,000 - $600,000 worth of food each year to supplement the food donations they receive in order to provide nutritious meals to Edmontonians.

There are so many ways you can help out your local food bank. You can volunteer at various fundraising/food-raising events, you can volunteer in the food bank itself taking orders or packing boxes, you can ask people to bring food donations to parties you host, you can donate to any of the agencies that help support them or you can just help spread the word of what is needed most.  Here is a link to the list of items that is needed most in the Edmonton Food Bank:

The best part of helping out at the Food Bank? While feeding the masses you're also feeding your soul by doing something amazing for your community. Do it!

Monday, March 19, 2012

February Book Reviews

February was a bit of a slower reading month for me as it was my son's birthday, Valentine's and we took the family on a trip (always less reading time for me as I'm with the kids nonstop). Even so I was able to fit the following 5 books in:

1. Reading Lolita in Tehran - Azar Nefesi

Scattered is the best way to describe this book.The author was trying to talk about her experiences as a university teacher and the challenges she faced as she tried to teach her students about all the literary greats. The issue was that the new government wouldn't let her talk about anything considered too Western. She eventually stops teaching but starts up a sort of book club/classes for her former students. The book jumps in the timeline so much that it's difficult to understand what happens when. I think the book has promise but the editor should have helped the author put things into a cleaner timeline.

2. Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - John le Carre

Wee! I really enjoyed the movie and so I think that helped me keep the characters/ events straight when reading the book. It follows the British Secret Service (Circus) and the story of potential internal betrayal within their ranks. Smiley, an ex-agent, is asked to secretly try to find out if there's a mole in Circus and the story follows him unravelling a few major incidents and searching for the spy. I really don't want to say too much about it as it's a mystery and no one likes a spoiler! But I would suggest maybe starting yourself a little cheat sheet with the names to keep them straight.

3.  The Lock Artist - Steve Hamilton

Double WEE! Two good books in a row makes me happy. The book is one of those ones that flips throughout a timeline but I found this one pretty easy to follow. It is about a young boy who goes through something traumatic and it causes him to not speak to anyone. He gets mixed in with the wrong crowd growing up and it leads to worse and worse situations for him. This is one of those books that gets you right off the bat and holds your attention right until the end. It's good enough I immediately looked into the author's other books. It's a great read!

4. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk - David Sedaris

I saw this little book sitting in Chapters and it looked so odd I just couldn't put it down. It's a bunch of little 1-3 page modern fables that kink of shock you at times and make you say 'ahh, good point' at others. There's not much to say about other than it's an odd little book!

5. I seriously can't remember what I read because I forgot to write it down. I know there's another one between Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk and my 1st March book so I'll try to fill this in when I remember...if I ever remember.

What was your favourite read for the month?