Over 600 Thanksgiving gift hampers will be distributed to individuals and families in need in Windsor, Ontario this Friday, as part of a charity drive by CUPE members in partnership with the Windsor-Essex Food Bank Association.

The hampers have been packed by municipal and community care workers represented by CUPE 543 as component of the union’s Operation Giveback, an initiative now in its eighth year.

“Operation Giveback is about sharing joy with those less fortunate than us,” said David Petten, president of CUPE 543. “We know many people are unable to celebrate Thanksgiving with their loved ones due to financial hardship, and our members wanted to make a positive difference by helping them enjoy the holiday.”

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), starting at 10:00 a.m. and running until 2 p.m.

The donation from the union comes at a time when food banks in Windsor are facing rising demand while seeing a decline in donations.

Noting the increasing food insecurity in the Windsor-Essex area, Petten said that charitable initiatives offer respite but are not a solution to a systemic problem.

“Charity speaks to our desire to help fellow community members and is a wonderful thing that many organizations and individuals support in the form of money, time and effort,” he said.

“But food insecurity cannot be meaningfully addressed through generosity alone – it has to be tackled through federal, provincial and municipal government policies and programs that tackle wealth inequality and alleviate poverty. As union activists, we are concerned about the increasing destitution in our communities and will continue to advocate for the most marginalized among us.”