Like so many, Jill Boville, owner of Jill’s Humble Pies in Oshawa, Ont., found her life grinding to a halt earlier this year because of COVID-19. But rather than lament over the state of the world, the baker and piano teacher decided to do something to make the world—or at least her little part of it—a better place.

Fair Is Fair
“I started hearing from people who were struggling,” she says. “I couldn’t sit back and do nothing. That’s not how God created us to be. We’re supposed to treat others with compassion. We’re not here to judge; we’re here to love.”

So in March, Jill starting asking people through her Jill’s Humble Pies Facebook page—as well as family, friends and acquaintances— if they could donate food items.

The response surprised even her. “The outpouring was incredible,” she says. “More than 1,800 items of food were donated.”

Now, the question was how to distribute the food—much of it baked goods cooked by Jill herself—to those who needed it the most.

Jill naturally thought of The Salvation Army.

“I was born and bred there,” she says, “so it’s a big part of my life. I attend Oshawa Temple and I have a lot of friends that belong to the Army.”

Jill brought all the donated items to Oshawa Temple’s food bank.

So much was donated that Jill was able to bring food items to The Salvation Army’s food banks in Whitby, Ont., and Bowmanville, Ont., as well.

“I wanted to be fair,” she smiles.

Chalking Up Success
Encouraged, Jill started collecting for seniors in Salvation Army and other long-term care facilities.

“We knew many families couldn’t get in to give their loved ones shampoo, soap, toothbrushes and so on,” Jill explains. “We assembled more than a hundred care packs and delivered them to some of the homes.”

Not content with that, Jill started preparing personal hygiene bags— consisting of face cloths, soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste and lip balm—for those suffering from homelessness, which she sent to Leigh Rowney, director of The Salvation Army’s community and family services in Oshawa.

“We assembled 80 bags and they all went that first night,” Jill smiles.

Jill also prepared kids’ packs for those who go to the food banks with their parents or live on the streets.

“They need some encouragement, so we set up packs for all different ages with colouring books, crayons and sidewalk chalk.”

What Can I Do Today?
Jill was doing this out of the goodness of her heart. However, she never imagined that her actions would ripple out into the community.

People from all over Ontario have contacted her to inquire how they can participate.

They started telling Jill, “I’ve never felt so good before, being able to help people.” Others asked her, “What else can we do?”

“The encouragement I am getting from them is a constant, but the encouragement that they’re all receiving from giving and being part of something greater is just spectacular,” Jill says. “This one person, in particular, told me, ‘You’ve given me a new lease on life. I’m excited to wake up each morning and think, What can I do today for somebody?’ ”

Jill replied, “That’s just great! You can give a bar of soap or you could give a hundred bars of soap, and you’re still giving the same kind of blessing.”

“The church doors may be closed or partially closed,” Jill concludes, “but this is as much church to me as anything. This is what church should be.”

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