CUPE 543 city workers will be distributing gift hampers to individuals and families in need in Windsor this morning as part of a charity drive in partnership with the Windsor-Essex Food Bank Association.

The hampers were packed by municipal workers commemorating the ninth year of an initiative they call ‘Operation Giveback.’

“Operation Giveback is about sharing joy with those less fortunate than us,” said David Petten, president of CUPE 543. “Sadly, as we live through a tumultuous period of rising inequality and record inflation, more and more people are facing economic hardship and unable to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones. This is a result of systemic problems and won’t be solved through charitable acts alone, but we hope our donation helps spread a bit of happiness this holiday weekend.”

The Thanksgiving hampers will contain a turkey (for families) or a chicken (for single residents), reusable grocery and insulated thermos bags, along with carrots, potatoes, onions, stuffing, apples, cookies, and a bag of candy for families with children.

They will be distributed at nine locations throughout the City of Windsor. The main distribution point will be the Unemployed Help Centre (6955 Cantelon Drive, Windsor, ON), with delivery starting today at 10:00 a.m. and running until 12:00 p.m.

The donation from the union comes at a time when 20 per cent of children in Windsor live in low-income households with an estimated 30 to 40 per cent increase in food bank usage in the city.

Petten said all levels of government must tackle wealth and income inequality through a range of policy solutions, including higher investments in public services. He cited a Statistics Canada study showing that the benefits of public services averaged $12,500 per person. 

“Charity can be very useful but it has limitations. We are far better off investing in collective solutions like public services that benefit us all,” he said.