This time of year, many families struggle with expenses. It’s not just being able to buy presents and serve a turkey dinner; with utility costs going up, many families fear they won’t get through the winter. Every little bit of help can make a difference, and when families feel supported by their community, all kinds of holiday fun and joy becomes possible.
Last year, my husband and I participated in a group sponsorship of a senior citizen who was all alone. Some of the items on the wish list were heart-breaking. The lady receiving the hamper needed things like a hot plate to cook food, and undergarments, and haircuts and food. She was someone who had not received a lot of Christmas presents in her life, and it was very touching to help her.
The Bridge Youth and Family Services has been providing Christmas hampers for its families for the past 15 years. This years’ campaign coordinators are excited to provide 23 families with Christmas hampers.
The success of the hamper campaign is mainly due to loyal sponsors who have been part of the Christmas hamper campaign since it began. One of the long time sponsors was able to sponsor three of the families this year, due to generous donations from his employer and their staff; 9 children and 5 parents will benefit from the care and compassion of this one sponsor. This level of generosity is common from all of community conscious sponsors that include; local businesses, corporations, and numerous individuals.
The families that receive these hampers are often overwhelmed with emotion when they realize the level of attention and care that was given to fulfilling their Christmas hamper needs. One of the long-time sponsors provides whole foods, organic turkeys, organic products, environmentally friendly cleaning agents and Christmas treats for 12 families.
One family who received this organic hamper was identified as having food allergies and specific dietary needs for their children. Specialized foods can be very expensive and not something that most families can afford.
The mother of this family was completely overcome with tears as she received her hamper. She could not believe her good fortune, “This is the best Christmas present ever!” This year we have a number of single parents. One 19-year-old who is five months pregnant wishes for diapers and “any baby donations, no matter what, would be amazing.” Her only request for herself was pajamas and a few pantry items.
The families who will be receiving hampers are identified by The Bridge Youth and Family Services’ Counsellors and Parent Education Facilitators. The campaign is coordinated by Susan Foisy and one volunteer, Darleen Nowell. The Bridge Youth and Family Services are honored to provide the Christmas Hamper Campaign to families again this year.
Since 1969, The Bridge Youth and Family Services Society has worked to promote the development of healthy children and healthy families in our community through counselling, support and parenting education programs. The Bridge also supports successful transitions to adulthood for vulnerable young people in the Central Okanagan. The Bridge is an accredited, registered non-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors.
Change starts here, because people are reaching out to each other in tough times. If you would like to support families in the New Year, the Bridge also has a wonderful program around Summer Memories. There are many other charities also providing these kinds of resources and opportunities for families as well.
To find out how you can be part of change, visit www.unitedwaycso.com