MOUNTAIN – With the giving season upon us, some may be wondering how they can give back and make a difference in someone else’s life, but they need to look no further than House of Lazarus (HOL).

A food bank and outreach mission, HOL has a long history of helping those in need. In addition to feeding roughly 550 people each month through its food bank, Take-out on the house service, and Operation Backpack, HOL provides affordable rental units for two families through its Places for People program.

“We will always do what we can to help everyone in need and are so thankful for the support of our wonderful community,” Linking Hands coordinator Kristina McDermott said.

The non-profit is currently looking for support for a few of its housing-related initiatives. Donations are needed to assist with Heat for the Holidays, Project Warmth, Handyman Heroes, Neighbours Helping Neighbours: Housing Supports program, and its Places for People project.

“We are in a housing crisis and the most vulnerable in our communities are suffering with nowhere to go, or are resorting to substandard housing, just to have a roof over their head. People are turning to HOL daily for help regarding the lack of housing in general, affordable housing, transitional housing, and emergency housing,” McDermott said. “Other common housing issues that arise daily are lack of heat, assistance with first or last month’s rent, heat and hydro arrears, and weather proofing (window kits).”

Heat for the Holidays is an annual program that provides a month’s worth of compressed wood logs for food bank clients with woodstoves or fireplaces, while Handyman Heroes is a program that runs all year, helping homeowners in need with urgent house repairs. Neighbours Helping Neighbours: Housing Supports helps with things like heat or hydro arrears, ensuring families have continued access to the utilities they need during the cold winter months. Places for People provides affordable housing with extra supports.

HOL is not government funded and relies on its social enterprise thrift stores, donations, and grants to keep its doors open and fund its many programs. A $25 donation would cover the cost of three plastic window insulation kits, which are donated to food bank customers through the Project Warmth program. A $75 donation will provide one week’s worth of compressed wood logs through the Heat for the Holidays program, while a month’s supply costs $300. Both programs are delivered in partnership with Community Food Share and Winchester BMR.

“Being able to provide these housing programs is making a difference. Seeing the tears and hearing the words of gratitude, we know that our assistance is much appreciated. By donating to these programs, our community is giving people hope when they need it most,” executive director Cathy Ashby said.

As part of the Linking Hands initiative’s Places for People project, HOL purchased a house in Dundas County earlier this year, which was then divided into two units and renovated. With this, HOL now provides affordable housing for two families, a one-on-one mentoring relationship, and a trust fund. Currently, there are no other affordable rentals for families or single non-seniors.

“We are pleased to be offering affordable rent for two families however we know that there is a great need to provide more. There are a lot of families living in substandard living conditions who are one circumstance away of being homeless,” Ashby said.

Participants are needed for HOL’s inaugural Catch the Ace fundraising initiative. Fifty per cent of the overall proceeds will go toward funding the Places for People program.

“On Nov. 18, we had our first Catch the Ace draw. The draw takes place weekly on Thursdays at 5 p.m. at HOL and can also be seen live on HOL’s Facebook page,” McDermott said. “Every week we draw one card from the drum. The person who is drawn instantly wins 20 per cent of the weekly sales. They then have a chance to win the progressive jackpot, which is 30 per cent of each week’s sales. The progressive jackpot continues to grow until the Ace of Spades is caught. The remaining 50 per cent of the weekly sales goes toward the Places for People program. We are going into week four, and our current progressive jackpot is at $1240.50.”

Tickets are available at HOL’s Mountain and Ingleside locations. Tickets can also be purchased at Rick’s Gas Bar in South Mountain, Jac’s Boutique in Kemptville, Brinston General Store, Seaway Valley Pharmacy in Winchester, Circle K in Iroquois, Barnfull O’ Goodies in Morrisburg, Winchester BMR, MacEwen’s in Morrisburg, and Rideau Auctions in Winchester.

To find out more about these and other HOL programs and projects, visit the mission’s website (hol.community) or follow HOL on Facebook. To find out how you can donate, or participate in the Catch the Ace fundraiser, phone 613-989-3830, or email Ashby (cashby@houseoflazarus.com) or McDermott (kmcdermott@houseoflazarus.com). To donate directly to HOL, visit canadahelps.org/en/dn/65435.

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