In From The Cold

The IN FROM THE COLD program is open every Saturday from early November until the end of March with a break over the Christmas period.   We cook and serve a delicious 4-course meal, host live music from local bands and get together. 

For more information, send an email to :



Hello my dear friends:

I am so excited to tell you that I am now planning my 2nd Long Distance Walk.  This time it is “THE ISLAND WALK – PEI”. Starting walk Sunday, May 12. Ending walk Friday, June 14, 2024. God’s willing.

As some of you know, my son Simon passed away on February 19th, after a 3-year battle with cancer.  His courage and resilience were impressive to see, but also difficult to watch as a mother.  I saw him deteriorate in front of my eyes; although, he did his best to always make me smile and laugh.  My dear Si is now with The Lord, and I am thankful for it.

In tribute to him, I have decided to undertake my second Long Distance walk. THE ISLAND WALK – PEI. The 700 km Camino de la Isla in Prince Edward Island was created in 2019.  It is a major undertaking for me, albeit 100 km less than the France/Spain 800 km Camino de Santiago, which I successfully completed in 2019 for my 80th year raising over $225,000.00 for our 13 non-for-profit long term care homes in Ottawa; and providing beds, walkers, wheelchairs and assisted living equipment to the St. Philip’s District Hospital in Barbados. This ISLAND WALK – PEI will take me a minimum of 35 days to complete – walking 20 – 25 km each day and taking one rest day.

I am undertaking this walk to raise awareness and funds for the feeding initiative called In From The Cold Supper Hospitality Program (IFTC) operated by our family’s church – Parkdale United Church.  I have volunteered with this program for many years . In the fall, winter & spring, we feed between 100 to 130 people every Saturday – whomever turns up at our door.  Yes, it is hard to believe that right here in our Nation’s Capital City there are people who have trouble being fed, but it is unfortunately true.

My ask of you? Would you help me and our 50 – 60 volunteers promote and raise money for In From The Cold? Look! with some food donations from our very supportive corporate community, we can actually feed: 5 people for $50, 10 people for $100 every Saturday throughout the winter months.

That is why I am willing to walk the 20 – 25 km each day.  I am hoping to raise enough funds to keep Parkdale’s IFTC program running for the next 5 years. Our Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey, who initiated this program in November 2002, said his heartfelt goodbye to his guests on Saturday, March 23rd, 2024.  This was his very last day greeting his guests as they arrived for their 4-course meal.  Rev. Bailey retires from his tenure at Parkdale in September of 2024. Now, this is even more reason that we must strive to keep this program up and running.

Please be assured that 100% of your donations will be used to provide and serve these meals. Donations can be made online at  Cheques are also welcomed. Please make cheques payable to Parkdale United Church and specify “In From The Cold” on the memo line. Your donations will be directed to the IFTC program at Parkdale United Church. All donations are tax deductible.

Thank you and God Bless.

Betty Hope Gittens  


Highlights from our 2023-24 season

Our “In From the Cold (IFTC)” program ended March 23 for the 2023-24 season. Over 19 Saturdays we welcomed guests to Parkdale United Church to enjoy a 4-course meal lovingly prepared in our kitchen. In addition to the delicious food, our guests were entertained with live music, enjoyed arts/crafts and reading books/magazines and socialized.

We hosted on average 109 guests per week (increase of 35% from last season) and served 2,064 meals (up 40% from last year), and provided left-overs to guests and community partners. IFTC has certainly grown in popularity over the past 22 years when it started in November 2002 with only 35 guests.

Our Servers were comprised of community groups including students from Carleton University and Algonquin College; faith-based groups such as, Trinity Presbyterian Church, Osgoode Baptist Church, and Vernon and Woodroffe United Churches; groups of colleagues from Deloitte, the Canadian Medical Association, the American Embassy; and groups of friends and families.

We are so thankful for our wonderful volunteers who are so dedicated to serve and to our community partners who donated supplies and food. This year, these businesses included:

    • The Ottawa Bagel Shop
    • GTxpress
    • Art Is In Bakery
    • Wellington West Retirement Community
    • Quickie Mart – Gladstone

The 2024-25 season will resume again this fall from mid-November to March 2025. Please check back for exact dates this fall.

Background about IFTC

The purpose of In From the Cold (IFTC) ministry is to provide deliciously prepared dinners to guests experiencing poverty or other challenges in the environment of safety, loving hospitality, respect and dignity.

In addition to the Saturday afternoon dinner, there are opportunities to create art; read a book or magazine; listen to live music and sing; and to have joys and concerns prayed over each week. 

IFTC runs every Saturday from mid-November to mid-March  between 2 and 5 PM, except for the Saturdays between Christmas and New Year’s.


Every week, more than 70 people including members of Parkdale United Church and community friends volunteer to support various tasks such as:

      • purchasing food and supplies
      • setting up the tables and chairs in the hall and preparing the beverages and snacks
      • preparing food in the kitchen under the guidance of the Chef
      • greeting our guests as they arrive and assisting them in getting to/from the hall
      • scheduling volunteers and community groups
      • serving beverages and snacks prior to dinner
      • offering craft and reading opportunities via our craft and literacy table
      • providing musical entertainment
      • serving the 4-course meal
      • preparing sandwiches to distribute to guests when they leave
      • washing dishes and cleaning up the kitchen
      • doing laundry
      • delivering any left-over food to community partners

In addition to our volunteers who come individually, we welcome groups (15-20 people) who volunteer together serving the meal. These groups have included;

      • Various faith-based organizations
      • College and university students
      • Ottawa-based companies who support their employees’ volunteerism.
      • Groups of friends and neighbours
      • Sport teams
      • Community service groups (e.g. Kiwanis) 

Generous Donors

We are extremely grateful to local merchants and business people who have generously donated food and other supplies:

    • Art-Is-In Bakery
    • GTxpress
    • Ottawa Bagel Shop and Deli
    • Wellington West Retirement Community
    • Quickie Mart – Gladstone

How you can show you care…

  1. If you would like to volunteer and want more information about the various shift opportunities, please send an email to CiCi and Christina
  2. Consider making a financial contribution to continue to support the operational costs of IFTC. This can be done via the PUC website or contacting the church office.
  3. The Literacy Table is grateful to receive books in good condition (particularly biographies, coffee table books, history, crafts) and “newer” magazines dated April 2024 onwards. Please leave them in the green box outside the Chapel or give them to a Literacy Table Volunteer any Saturday between November and March.

Testimonies From Our Guests

“Thank you for a series of joyful Saturdays.”

“Thank you to everyone who had worked to prepare all the delicious meals which all of us ate & enjoyed. God bless everyone.”

“God sent an angel to earth when he sent you. Thank you for everything. ”

“Your food is good”

“Thanks so much for your caring heart & compassion! ”

“May God continue to bless you and send his angels to watch over you.”

“This has become a wonderful community for me this year. I will miss it in the summer.”

“What a meal Saturday so good and band was great”  

“I would LOVE to come by and have company for a meal for a change. Eating alone all the time is depressing.” 

“I really don’t like salad but that salad was amazing.” 

The Messenger

Monthly Email Newsletter


429 Parkdale Ave
Ottawa, ON K1Y 1H3
Phone: (613) 728-8656