April 24, 2020 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Written by Chloe Balmer, Communications Intern

Campus Ministry at King’s has invited members of the community, notably “sewing enthusiasts”, to help out with a special project related to COVID-19. Volunteers are needed to sew face masks as a part of the #masksoflove initiative, which aims to provide St. Joseph’s Hospitality Centre with face masks to protect vulnerable populations.

Located in downtown London at 707 Dundas Street, St. Joseph’s Hospitality Centre is a drop-in centre dedicated to providing hospitality and food, referrals and other essential resources to those in need. King’s has supported the Centre for over nine years through volunteer programs, food donation programs, and social gatherings. During the school year, volunteers from King’s spend two Saturday nights a month at St. Joseph’s hosting a coffeehouse event providing food, live music, and a place for the community to come together.

Annette Donovan Panchaud, who coordinates social justice and outreach initiatives at King’s Campus Ministry, is determined to “continue to support folks that King’s has been supporting for years.” Essential support now includes the fabrication and distribution of face masks and donation of packaged foods.

Guests of St. Joseph’s Hospitality Centre are largely unable to practice physical distancing while living in the streets of London’s east end. Wearing fabric masks is recommended by the CDC in public spaces where physical distancing may be difficult to maintain, which inspired the #masksoflove initiative. Donovan Panchaud says providing masks to at-risk populations not only benefits physical health, but also restores dignity and assures vulnerable people that they are worthy of protection. For those unable to sew, volunteers can support the initiative by donating fabric and cording as well as spreading the word about the project.

In addition to the call for face masks, the Centre is also encouraging food and monetary donations. St. Joseph’s volunteers and staff typically serve about 150 people a day for both breakfast and lunch. Due to a rise in unemployment and income loss connected to the COVID-19 pandemic, those numbers have doubled. With upwards of 300 people a day relying on the Centre for meals, all available support is needed. Furthermore, social distancing protocols have forced staff and volunteers at St. Joseph’s to get creative, distributing to-go meals outside of the building. This has affected their ability to provide a safe space and warm meals and has prompted an immediate need for take-out containers, juice boxes, granola bars, and other packaged foods.

Anyone interested in helping King’s Campus Ministry support St. Joseph’s Hospitality Centre should contact Donovan Panchaud at annette.donovanpanchaud@kings.uwo.ca to arrange collection and delivery of donations.