Perhaps to your dismay, they are not a group of Mr. Potato Heads with removable body parts. They are in fact a group of people who donate their time once a month, for about an hour, serving baked potatoes in the Vancouver Downtown Eastside.
Potato Heads was created in 2007. Before its beginning, its original founders Lynn Macdonald and Fred Woo started volunteering for another group called Spud Patrol. At the time, the two realized there were too many volunteers, and in response Lynn was inspired to begin their own group.
What Potato Heads do is pretty simple: once a month, they gather together in Pigeon Park and set up a couple of tables with stations for baked potatoes and various toppings. Each volunteer contributes what they can, be it cheese, sour cream, juice boxes, or even seemingly unrelated items, such as clothing. There is neither a required donation/contribution from each volunteer nor a minimum time commitment per month. They meet whenever most volunteers are free and bring what they can.
This setup is straightforward, and Potato Heads does a terrific job of giving back to our community.
I was given the opportunity to join in on Potato Day. And while volunteering was not new to me, feeding the hungry was a new experience. We had started setting up around noon, and already people began to notice us. Soon enough, people were lined up and potatoes were being served. Within an hour, both coolers were emptied and Potato Heads dominated hunger once again!
During my conversation with the members of Potato Heads, it became apparent that this group was down-to-earth and intended nothing more than to show their compassion to those who live with more challenging lives.
The take-home message from this whole experience is that it does not take a lot to help someone out. As Lynn mentioned during the interview, it literally can be a group of friends getting together and handing out ten sandwiches. Sure, it’s only ten sandwiches, but that’s ten people you just fed. Poverty can happen to anyone, but we can all take the initiative to help those in need.
For more information, check out their site here.
by Elizabeth Thai