By Michael Boriero – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Although they were forced to close their dining hall when the Eastern Townships went into a red zone, the Chaudronnée de l’Estrie is still seeing roughly 60 homeless people every day.
The Sherbrooke-based soup kitchen hands out hot meals to residents in need through a window behind the building. And while Chaudronnée will be closed on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, volunteers plan to supply a special dinner on Christmas Eve.
François Lemieux, a coordinator at Chaudronnée, said it is unfortunate they can’t open their dining hall, especially with everyone dealing with social isolation. But they were able to serve a classic holiday meal last week to lift people’s spirits.
“We did our traditional Christmas dinner last week with turkey, pie and other items that we served at the window,” said Lemieux. “We also gave out gifts and gift cards to grocery stores to help them out a little bit.”
The soup kitchen is able to stay operation thanks to a mix of government funding, federal, provincial and municipal, as well as grants and donations, he explained. The homeless population gets an opportunity to eat food and socialize.
“It’s a good thing we’re here because a lot of people we meet, if we weren’t here they wouldn’t have anything,” Lemieux said. “I’ve had people tell me that if it wasn’t for Chaudronnée, they’d be eating out of the garbage bin.”