Volunteers prepare the Thanksgiving dinners for patrons of the Good Shepherd Centre in downtown Toronto. The Good Shepherd has recently turned to social media in efforts to raise money for its programs. The hashtag #FastTurkey is aiming to raise $10,000. Photo by Michael Swan

Good Shepherd makes leap to social media for fundraising

By 
  • September 30, 2016

TORONTO – Come Thanksgiving Day, everybody eats — including the homeless. This year Toronto’s Good Shepherd Centre is asking you to skip lunch for one day and donate what you would have spent so the poor and homeless of Toronto can eat a Thanksgiving Day feast.

The Good Shepherd runs Toronto’s largest meal program, serving more than 1,300 meals every day.

Using the hashtag #FastTurkey, The Good Shepherd is making its first attempt to use social media to raise cash. For the past couple of years at Thanksgiving, Easter and Christmas, The Good Shepherd has run social media campaigns to raise awareness of the problems faced by the homeless and near-homeless in just getting enough food.

This year’s campaign aims to raise $10,000.

“It’s a modest amount, but it’s our first foray into using social media to directly ask for financial support,” said Good Shepherd spokeswoman Adrienne Urquhart. “We hope to generate awareness surrounding food security as well as homelessness. We live in a vibrant, prosperous and giving city where no one should go hungry.”

Excluding the tons of donated food that keeps The Good Shepherd kitchen running, it costs the agency about $2 to serve a meal that includes a soup or salad, a high protein main dish, vegetables, buns and drink and often dessert.

The $10,000 goal would buy about five days worth of regular meals and snacks.

Of course there’s extra pressure on The Good Shepherd during holidays. Last year on Thanksgiving volunteers served 1,608 meals. Whether it’s Christmas, Easter or Thanksgiving, more than 50 volunteers will turn up to serve meals to seated patrons — a departure from the usual self-serve, cafeteria-style meals.

Money remains a secondary goal for the Thanksgiving Day campaign. The real goal is “to have people think about the reality that so many people in our city are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless,” said Urquhart.

Among those who have tweeted their support for the campaign so far are Toronto Catholic school trustee Jo-Ann Davis and former MP Paul Calandra.

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