If you're staring at a mountain of unwanted Christmas chocolate and sweets this morning, a Nova Scotia charity will be happy to take them off your hands and give them to people in need.
The Freedom Kitchen in Lower Sackville, N.S., will be hosting a New Year's Eve Eve party on Dec. 30. While King of Donair will donate pizzas, organizers are hoping others will come through with dessert.
Rainie Murphy, director of Freedom Kitchen and Closet, said they got the idea earlier in December when offices called them after Christmas parties to see if they could pass along the extra goodies.
"The kids' eyes were huge. We had one little guy say, 'This is Tuesday's recess, this is Wednesday's recess,'" Murphy said Friday morning.
Now they're asking anyone with extra sweets to drop them off at the back office of Knox United Church on Sackville Drive Monday between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
'So much chocolate'
"I have so much chocolate leftover from Christmas and I would like to see it go somewhere where someone is going to enjoy it. Some of these kids might not have had the luxury of getting boxes of chocolates for Christmas," Murphy said.
Murphy asked that any sweets containing nuts be donated in sealed packaging and clearly marked as containing nuts.
On Monday, they'll set up their food truck in the parking lot at the Sackville Public Library from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. They'll be taking donations at that location from 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Murphy said lately about half the turnout is young people.
"We [also] have a lot of veterans who come to Freedom Kitchen because, by receiving a free meal, they are able to go get their prescription, because they may have saved an extra $20," she said. "There are some homeless people that live out in the woods in Sackville."
Jeff Karabanow researches homelessness and poverty as a professor at Dalhousie University's School of Social Work. He's also a founder of Halifax's Out of the Cold shelter.
He said Christmas can be a tough time for people living on the streets or in poverty. "I think it brings back a lot of memories. Probably a lot of them are problematic," he said. "They're without family, are without home, without stability.
"It's a beautiful sentiment to be trying to support people who are less privileged by providing chocolate, providing food, dropping off clothing to shelters. It demonstrates the big hearts our communities have."
Asking deeper questions
Many of the donors will be giving to protect their own health from the excess sweets, but Karabanow said that's not usually a problem for people living in poverty and on the streets.
"There are such huge health issues that having more chocolate or more rich food is really not an issue for this population," he said. "The fact that they have very poor availability of healthy food in general is a much bigger question — and the fact that they go hungry a lot of the time."
Karabanow said the only downside to such giving is if people donate something and think the problem has been solved. He challenged people to ask deeper questions.
"Why are those folks on the streets? Why don't they have safe spaces to stay? Why are they suffering when others aren't? Those are the questions charity silences," he said. "Charity has a lot to do with the giver, but it doesn't ask the the larger, structural questions."
He said high levels of poverty and a lack of affordable housing are two of those issues. He said people in poverty will experience deeper change if people remember them come January and February.
"All these services really need much more support," he said.
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