Community events are an important part of our lives at GFA. They play a vital role in allowing us to serve our neighbours and build relationships within Stoney Creek and the surrounding area. The autumn season is especially filled with opportunities to serve, both on our property and alongside other local organizations.
On Sept. 28, Battlefield Park invited us to be part of their annual Apple Festival. This is our third time as a vendor at the festival and we enjoyed connecting with the families who stopped by our table for children’s activities.
Attendance was a bit down this year due to cloudy skies, according to Susan, the Battlefield House Museum Curator, but around 2,000 visitors were in attendance. Some highlights at the festival are their pancake breakfast, demonstrations and the Battlefield Bake-Off, a pie baking contest.
We also participated in the Pumpkin Festival, hosted by the Stoney Creek BIA on Oct. 19. The theme of this event is all things pumpkin. We joined in the mood by offering the children who came by our table, pumpkin shaped balloons and fall themed checkers or tic-tac-toe.
At our GFA office, we hosted our 2nd Annual Neighbourhood Fall Festival, on October 26.
Around 90 visitors attended the outdoor festival which ran from 1-5 pm. The bouncy castle was definitely a highlight with the children as well as the variety of games and homemade treats. One little boy commented, “It’s just like a fair without the Ferris wheel!”
In our busy world, many families don’t have the time to simply enjoy being with each other and doing fun activities together. Our desire in providing events like this is to give families the opportunity to slow down and participate in some good old-fashioned activities together as well as connect with other citizens in their community.
At each of our community events we collect food donations for the Stoney Creek Foodbank. We have seen a very generous response from our attendees. Donations received at the Pumpkin and Fall Festivals combined amounted to $185 plus numerous food items.
One of our visitors to the Fall Festival was Ben, the foodbank manager, who stopped in to say hi. We met Ben earlier this year while dropping off some donations. He also oversees the Stoney Creek Victory Gardens, which is located on Jones Road, not far from our GFA office building.
Hamilton Victory Gardens is a not-for-profit team of community volunteers dedicated to alleviating hunger and food insecurity in Hamilton, Ontario and local communities by using urban agriculture to provide fresh produce to local food banks and meal programs. Hamilton Victory Gardens transforms empty city lots into places of community, education and growth.
Over the summer months, our Discipleship Program students along with some staff members from GFA were able to visit the gardens and assist with planting, weeding and watering. It was a joy to serve alongside Ben and the other volunteers who give of their time to provide food for hurting families within our community. Through our time at the garden and in conversations with the foodbank volunteers we have developed a greater awareness of the reality of poverty within the Stoney Creek Area.
According to the Social Planning & Research Council of Hamilton (SPRC), one in five children in the greater Hamilton area are living in poverty. The mountain has about 22% of children living in poverty and then in Stoney Creek it’s 13% of children who are living in poverty.
While it is difficult to hear of those who are suffering, we are also encouraged to see others like Ben, who are working towards change and willing to make a difference.
As individuals, our efforts might not seem to go very far, but by joining together with others we are able to make a far-reaching impact in the lives of those in need.
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