Each Thursday, including Christmas eve and New Years eve as both fell on Thursday this year, a group of people called “ The Sandwich Crew” prepare and deliver hundreds of sandwiches to homeless persons in Montreal every week.
The group began the initiative in November, following the rise in homelessness, and in response to the need for community involvement as the city and government fell short in dealing with the issues surrounding homelessness in Montreal.
Widows Sons Quebec Grand Chapter founding member, Mark Laxer kick-started the initiative with his sister Sandra Laxer Stein. The pair gathered a group of participants via social media to prepare sandwiches and coordinate pick ups and deliveries on a weekly basis.
They were soon joined by Mark’s son in law, Corey Szwarcok, who grouped together a West Island division made up of West Island residents preparing sandwiches at home. Corey’s group distribute a portion of the sandwiches that they prepare to homeless people and/or people in need, living in the West Island.
Sandra’s daughter Marnie Stein, Principal at JPPS — joined in the initiative on week one by turning it into an educational project for the students in her school to learn about what it means to be homeless. Each student was asked to make two sandwiches. With the help of the students on week one of the initiative, the Sandwich Crew were able to distribute 660 sandwiches to homeless people in Montreal.
Since the initiative began, a minimum of 600 sandwiches are distributed each week.
Mark and Sandra begin their weekly distribution route near the Atwater / Ste-Catherine intersection at Cabot Square. From there, they drive east looking for people to feed. “Sometimes they are difficult to find, we really need to look in all corners. We began noting regular hangouts and getting to know the streets.” Mark said to The Suburban.
The group has now grown to 26 regular participants producing sandwiches at different intervals. Some make sandwiches weekly, some monthly or by-weekly. Some sandwich-makers include other items such as fruits, beverages, or snacks.
As a special treat for the indigenous homeless population during the holidays, Sandra also added fresh salmon to the delivery menu.
When possible, with the help of donations, a number of $10 gift cards for Tim Hortons are included in the distribution which also helps homeless people to get out of the cold for a short while.
At end of their route, Mark and Sandra leave a portion of the remaining sandwiches at the heating tent set up by the city on the corner of Ste-Catherine and Berri and the balance at the Old Brewery Mission.
“With at least 4000 homeless people living in Montreal, we want to get enough people on board to be able to distribute a minimum of 250 sandwiches daily.” Mark said to The Suburban. Mark is confident that The Sandwich Crew will reach it’s maximum potential to help ease hunger for homeless persons living in the Greater Montreal Area.
Anyone who is interested in joining The Sandwich Crew may apply via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org