When the church that Ed Ostermeier was attending closed down in 2001, he and his wife began praying about where to go next. While living in southwestern Ontario, his wife’s cousin, who lived in Alberta, unexpectedly phoned them and suggested they try a Salvation Army church.
“I thought, The Army does a lot of good things to help the underprivileged, who have always laid heavy on my heart,” he says. “So, we decided to try it.”
After attending a few services, Ed decided to become an official member of the church and has been volunteering with the Army since.
“Best thing I ever did.”
Throughout the year, Ed stocks shelves in the food bank, packs groceries and sometimes delivers hampers.
“When they need me, I’m here,” says Ed. “During the Christmas season, I’m here every day, packing boxes with items that come in from donations.” He also serves as a kettle volunteer, and has helped to recruit and co-ordinate volunteers.
After retiring from his 26-year career as a custodian in Grey County, Ont., with the Bluewater District School Board, Ed and his wife moved to Collingwood, Ont., in 2015 and became part of The Salvation Army Collingwood Community Church. The Ostermeier family includes three children, nine grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
“A few years ago, two of my granddaughters stood at the kettle with me at a grocery store,” he recalls. “We had a fantastic time acting silly, doing a little singing, and people really enjoyed it.
“Helping others brings fulfilment and I hope my family knows that all the work I do is for the Lord.”
Captain Rob Hardy, who together with his wife, Captain Micheline, were appointed to Collingwood Community Church in 2020, says volunteers are essential to keeping ministries going, especially due to the issues created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We found that not having enough people on our kettles affected everything, because funding from the kettles goes toward family services, the food bank and emergency relief,” says Captain Rob. “Without volunteers, we can’t do what we need to do.”
Ed recently became the corps sergeant-major, the top lay person in an Army church, and serves in street ministry. On Monday nights, he sits on a bench in front of the church with his Bible and speaks with anybody who wants to talk or who may need advice.
“Ed is a man of God, and he loves people, but he hates the attention—he truly does,” laughs Captain Rob. “Yet his love for the Lord pushes him, and that’s why he can do what he does and how he can speak to people on the street.
“It’s inspiring to witness.”
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