You’ve heard of OOTC frequently over the Christmas season. The snowman has been in the narthex collecting warm accessories. 37 pairs of socks, 9 pairs of hand knitted mittens, 2 pairs of ski mitts, 1 scarf, 4 hats, 3 thermal long underwear tops and 4 thermal underwear bottoms were collected. The Christmas Eve loose offering and designated givings totaling $484 was forwarded to OOTC. These donations are deeply appreciated. It is not a mission for which the church designates a specific annual monetary support so this generous practical support is so welcomed.
OOTC is a ministry run out of Knox Presbyterian Church downtown. Knox is well situated at the corner of Elgin and Lisgar to serve people down town who find themselves homeless or poor. Grace Church has partnered with Knox since 2007 providing volunteers on the 2nd Saturday of the month from November to March. In the early years, sometimes, after we finished serving, the volunteers would go to a restaurant or someone’s home to socialize and have a meal together. Pre-pandemic, we were 15-20 volunteers who helped prepare, serve and clean up. Often we were able to sit, talk or pray with our guests who were unhurried to leave. We became familiar with ‘the regulars’. Usually we would feed around 80 people. When the pandemic hit and indoor dining was prohibited, the OOTC ministry switched to takeaway meals. Designated teams for prep, kitchen duty, meal assembly, and outdoor greeters and meal distributors were established. 3 of us from Grace continued to help. Some Saturdays in the beginning of the pandemic we distributed 200 meal packages. The demand was so great that the program continued into the summer with the support of down town community groups and social agencies. Now, the number is 120-160 meals. Many of the Grace volunteers are seniors so understandably they stepped away during the pandemic. I want to express my gratitude to them for helping out for so many years.
Often the guests ask for winter clothing, thus the reason for the Christmas collection of hats, socks, long underwear, etc. The items were delivered on Jan. 14th and are available for distribution for those who need some warm clothing throughout the winter months. In the past there has been a big fundraiser music concert at Knox in the spring. I don’t have details now but a poster will be placed on the community bulletin board usually in March or April to advertise the event if it’s happening.
Recently, OOTC has shifted to a hybrid model of some take away meals and some indoor dining. They are still providing 120-160 meals every Saturday. We regularly provide 6 volunteers with past or present affiliation with Grace Church. If this ministry is of interest to you, please talk to Linda.