Standing along Edmonton’s 118th Street, wearing a t-shirt that reads “Not Today Satan”, Dale Desjarlais and a small but mighty crew of volunteers hand out food and drinks to people in need.
He’s been doing this on and off for two years, mostly in the downtown area.
Every two weeks — on the Saturday after payday — Desjarlais takes to the streets. He uses his own money and time to buy and make bannock and soup while also handing out any other food people have donated.
“When people are getting fed I feel happy because I know how it feels to be hungry or have to go without food for two, three days,” he said.
Desjarlais previously struggled with drug and alcohol addiction after suffering physical and sexual abuse as a child.
Now he wants to use his experience in healing to support others who are struggling.
‘People need people’
Some volunteers said there isn’t enough help for the growing number of people in need.
“I’ve been there and I will never forget where [help] came from,” said Cheryl Williams, who has been helping Desjarlais for the past year.
“It doesn’t matter what level of the ladder you’re on, people need people, and we need to strive for that support and that unity as a community.”
Desjarlais said his faith helped him heal and he hopes sharing that, along with some food, will help them.
“From where I came from 25 years ago, I had lots of hate and anger, and I don’t want to go back there,” he said.
“When I see the homeless and how they’re out of it, and the people that are struggling, that don’t have God … I feel sorry for them.”
He said people are very grateful for the extra food.
“They say ‘thank you’ and ‘God bless you’ and ‘you’re doing a good job.’ And … I say, ‘no, Jesus loves you guys. It’s not me. I’m just His hands and His feet.'”
Desjarlais said he plans to keep handing out food and has inspired others to do it themselves in Edmonton’s downtown.
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