Harvest Dinner set to raise funds for London's impoverished

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Although the holiday season may be a few months away, local charitable organization Life*Spin is already in fundraising mode for their annual Christmas Family Sponsorship program. The main event this year is the 100 Mile Harvest Dinner, which is set to take place at Fanshawe's Saffron's Restaurant this Friday.

Life*Spin, Low Income Family Empowerment * Sole-Support Parent Information Network is the longest running community economic development group in the London area and focuses on providing support for London's financially disadvantaged. Originally founded in 1989 by a group of sole-support mothers, Life*Spin has since expanded to offer a variety of services to help support Londoners who need the help.

“Life*Spin is there to fill whatever needs there may be to help people become more independent and to help empower them again. A lot of people are just in a really tough position,” said Marisa Thorburn, a member of the Life*Spin board of directors.

With London's unemployment rate hovering around the seven per cent mark, the need for support certainly exists. Last year, the organization assisted over 1,000 families with its Christmas Family Sponsorship program, and similar numbers are expected for 2016.

Through the program, families in need are matched with families that have the means to give back in the form of gifts, clothing and food. The holidays can be a financially stressful time for everyone, especially for those that may struggle financially.

And while it may only be the middle of October, holding the dinner in support of the Christmas program serves to highlight how much we can take for granted knowing that we'll be able to provide for our family. Thorburn said that anyone can fall onto hard times and Life*Spin will be there for anyone who needs the help.

“You'll hear from the people who have gotten back on their feet how much they appreciate the program. And, quite often, they will sponsor families once they are in a financial position to do so,” Thorburn said.

The organization also provides general support for the community in the form of the Life*Spin Free Store, which offers items such as clothing, utensils and other necessities free of charge to those who need it. They also offer income tax services and affordable housing to families, as well as low-cost summer camps for children. Emphasis is placed on empowerment and self-development, with the end goal being self-sufficiency. “There's so many more people in need. I think it's becoming more relied on,” Thorburn said.

This is the second year for the Harvest Dinner, which takes place on Friday, Oct. 21 at 6 p.m. and features ingredients grown within 100 miles of the London area. The event takes place at Saffron's Restaurant, which is run by students in Fanshawe's School of Tourism and Hospitality program. The dinner features live entertainment, a silent auction and a raffle.

Tickets for the event are available for purchase on Eventbrite for $60 individually or $100 for a pair.