By LeRae Haynes
Bringing light and warmth to the world by re-purposing items headed for landfill is only one of the many projects taken on by Williams Lake volunteers for Canadian Food for Children.
Local volunteer D.J. is one of those volunteers. At her home in Williams Lake she re-purposes tuna cans and discarded wax, adds wicks, and makes candles to use in places around the world with no light and no heat, either due to extreme poverty or a natural disaster.
Volunteers also re-purpose and put together things like things like midwife kits, orphanage boxes, sewing boxes, cleaning kits, pneumonia vests for babies, leprosy hospital kits, shoe kits, school boxes and backpacks, hospital boxes, hydration kits, baby newborn kits, and carpentry kits. They collect gardening and sports equipment, school and office supplies, curtain valances, clothes, and food.
Williams Lake volunteer Bel Hume said they used to make the candles at the BC head office in Penticton. “When they no longer had room, we decided to make them here,” she said. “We used to ship them the empty tins and the random candles, and now we keep them and ship head office the finished candles.”
D.J. said when she heard the candle making was going to be done locally, she wanted to help. “I was looking for a project, and said, ‘I can do this.’
“I wanted to invest in other people. When we see how many people around the world live with disaster and extreme poverty—no electricity and no light—why can’t we help them with stuff that we just throw away? Simple things like a candle made from a tuna can and leftover candle wax can help improve their lives in ways we can’t imagine.”
“This helps on both ends,” she said.“It reduces landfill and helps people around the world.”
Canadian Food for Children works to relieve the suffering of the poor in over two dozen developing countries around the world, including Angola, Columbia, Dominica, El Salvador, Ghana, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Madagascar, Malawi, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Sierra Leone, St. Lucia, Tanzania, Trinidad, and Zambia. It also does projects in Canada.
Canadian Food for Children was founded 37 years ago by Dr. Andrew Simone and his wife Joan Simone. Every single person, from management to feet-on-the-ground helpers, is a volunteer.
Another volunteer is needed to help with candle making in Williams Lake. Candle production doesn’t require a lot of space and can done between other tasks.
D.J. said she uses two crockpots for melting the wax. “It usually takes two hours, and while it’s melting, you can get your cans ready, clean inside and out,” she said. “Then you get your wicks ready—I get them from Wicks and Wax in Surrey—and set the wick and the base inside the cans. I recycle small foam strips and make holes in them to hold the wicks upright. Then I pour the wax to fill one third of the can, set for a few hours and then pour wax in to the top and let them cool overnight. Each crockpot makes 12-15 candles.”
“Ask yourself what it would be like if you were in a country that had very little,” Hume said, “or a country that came through a disaster like a tsunami, a flood, an earthquake, or a hurricane, and you had lost everything. Ask yourself what would help and then find out how you can get involved.
“Maybe your spouse has passed away, or maybe you’re downsizing, and would consider donating to a Third World country,” Hume said. “Let us know. We can use things like clothing, tools, used school supplies, garden equipment, nails, bolts, washers, and hand tools. And maybe if you’re heading to Penticton, you can volunteer to drop off a few things to the Canadian Food for Children warehouse. That would be the gift of a helping hand.”
“Being ‘green’ is a big focus for a lot of people, especially young people,” D.J. said. “This is a great way to put your concerns for the environment to use.”
She said candle making is a fun project to do with friends and is not a huge time commitment, adding that a couple batches a month would be wonderful. “It’s great to be part of something meaningful for the environment, and meaningful to people around the world with the most basic needs,” she said.
“It gives you the satisfaction of helping people, helping the environment, and making something meaningful with your hands.”
For more information about Canadian Food for Children visit www.canadianfoodforchildren.net and for more information about where to drop off donations and how you can get involved in any of a wide variety of local projects, phone Bel Hume at (250) 398-8740.
LeRae Haynes is a freelance writer, song writer, and instigator of lots of music with people of all ages in the community. She fearlessly owns 10 ukuleles, clinging to the belief that you’re not a hoarder if you play them all.