Ryan Thirlwall (right), one of the organizers of the Flash Feeding Frenzy in Centennial Square on Sunday evening, looks for someone to offer a jacket to. Thirlwall co-founded the Facebook group from which volunteers came to help at the charitable event, which saw food and clothing distributed to members of Victoria’s street community. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

Facebook group members pay it forward to Victoria’s homeless community

Volunteers distribute food, clothing to street community

A group of people who mostly knew each other only from a Facebook group gathered in Centennial Square on Sunday evening before a planned trip around the downtown to hand out food, warm clothing and hygiene products to homeless individuals.

Taking this charitable show on the road was easier said than done, however, as the group found themselves for the first while handing out items where they stood, with a line of people trooping through the square to take advantage of the generosity of others.

Greater Victoria resident Jenny Hindley organized Sunday’s Flash Feeding Frenzy via the fledgling Facebook community Ballin Pics and Clicks, with the help of that group’s co-founder Ryan Thirlwall of Highlands.

“Instead of us just being on Facebook I wanted to bring us out into the community,” Hindley said. The support from various businesses and individuals for the group’s first event has been tremendous, she noted, with donations of shoes, used warm clothing and numerous food items.

One volunteer even baked potatoes, complete with butter and utensils. “People shouldn’t have to eat them with their hands,” she said, smiling.

Thirlwall, who created the Facebook group just a few short months ago with Roland Ruhl-Larocque, Assiniboine, Alta., greeted the visitors with kindness and enthusiasm. A similar event was held in Edmonton earlier Sunday and resulted in large numbers of people treated to warm clothing and nutritious food, Thirwall said.

Ballin Pics and Clicks, given a “youthful, catchy name” to appeal to more young people, he said, aims to promote positive living through the posting of uplifting comments and photos. As of Monday nearly 14,000 people had joined the online group.

“We try to demonstrate what we practice in our own online community and pay it forward and love it forward in our real, offline communities,” said Thirwall, a former national top 20 under 20 recipient for leadership achievement and active anti-bullying advocate and fundraiser. “As we like to say, it costs zero dollars to be a decent human being.”

He and Hindley expect more events like the Feeding Frenzy to be popping up to benefit the downtown street community as the weather grows colder.

Find the online group by searching for Ballin Pics and Clicks on Facebook.

editor@vicnews.com

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Volunteers gather at the Flash Feeding Frenzy in Centennial Square on Sunday evening. The charitable event, organized by members of an online Facebook group, saw food and clothing distributed to members of Victoria’s street community. Don Descoteau/Victoria News

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