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Several places in the Downtown Eastside will be serving up free turkey dinners this Thanksgiving to those in need.

The Union Gospel Mission on 601 East Hastings will be open on Monday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Keela Keepling, senior public relations manager, told the Vancouver Sun will be carving up 170 turkeys.

On Wednesday, to avoid overlap, The Door is Open at 373 East Cordova will dish out its turkey dinners.

Finally, on Sunday, October 14, The Salvation Army’s Harbour Light at 119 East Cordova estimates to serve 1,800 people from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The dinners are available to both the homeless and the working poor who are not homeless, but unable to buy food.

It’s heartwarming to see the community providing for those in need all year round, but especially at holiday times. For people who have little else it must mean the world to know there are people providing and looking out for you.

Homelessness Action Week 2012

In the spirit of Homelessness Action Week, the Union Gospel Mission is also going to be holding walking tours of the DTES from October 9-13.

At the East Van Love 6.5 tweetup on September 27, Derek Weiss (Manager of Community Engagement at UGM) said the best gift you can give the homeless is “the gift of presence.” Simply looking them in the eye and acknowledging they exist can feel like a HUGE thing.

As someone who walks through the DTES often, this hit home for me – I started considering how often I do this myself. I do think it’s absolutely ridiculous that I have friends from the ‘burbs who try to avoid walking on the same side of the street as the homeless – REALLY!

But, I did think about how little I connect with people on the street and avoid their eyes so they won’t ask me for change.

So I started trying something new – looking them in the face, smiling at them, and if I don’t have any change I tell them “I’m sorry, I don’t have any today.”

It’s not much, but I hope that just knowing they aren’t invisible counts for something.

I’m going to attend a walking tour and try to get to a couple other HAW events, and I encourage anyone who’s hesitant to interact with the homeless to do the same.

They aren’t animals, they aren’t scum, and they exist.

Let them know you’re aware of that, at least.

camille

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Reporter at the Nanaimo Daily News.

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news in East Vancouver as told by a journalism student in her early 20s.

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