Reflecting on December
by Rebecca Thuro
(3 minute read)
Every year we enter the Christmas season with some loose ends that need a touch of the miraculous. This year we needed a building to host the Christmas Bureau toy room and a way to raise $1.2 million by December 31st. Feeding 3,300 people doesn’t get easier at Christmas. It requires even more engagement from our community. And that is just what we found.
“My Christmas was complete. My children were so excited that “Santa didn’t forget about them.” If it wasn’t for this program I sadly wouldn’t have had much of a Christmas for my children. Being a part of the Christmas Bureau gives me hope that one day I will be in a better place in life where my family and I can bless another family for Christmas like I
was this year.” – Anonymous Mom
Who Came Through?
Thankfully, Solid Rock Church came through with an amazing location for the toy room. With the help of a team of volunteers from Envision Financial, the Christmas Bureau staff were able to set up the toy room in just enough time to open up for the Christmas season. Both volunteers and guests expressed how warm and inviting the space was.
December is a unique time of year at the Food Bank because the Christmas Bureau program begins and allows us to provide a turkey dinner and gifts for families and seniors – in addition to providing a supplemental food hamper. This is also the only time of year we’re able to create opportunities for people to meet their neighbours in need in a unique way through sponsorship. By becoming a family or senior sponsor, a group can deliver food and gifts directly to people in need, right where they are at. We wouldn’t have been able to share Christmas without the help sponsors. With the help of the people in our community, from faith groups, and businesses-people alike, we banded together to provide Christmas for people in need. Together we helped 1,513 children experience the joy of Christmas.
Fundraising Goal – What is Needed?
Our fundraising goal leading up to Christmas was to raise $1.2 million by December 31st, but the reality is, it takes $1.5 million to be able to feed and provide services to people in poverty for the entire year. While we didn’t quite make the goal date, we did meet the goal by the end of January. We’re so thankful for the support because every dollar makes a difference. Together, we feed thousands of people each month, supply necessities for developing babies, deliver food to seniors with mobility restrictions, give access to life changing dental procedures, offer valuable camp opportunities for children, provide a safe place for people with diverse abilities, and create space for people to rise above their circumstance.
Stories of Hope at Christmas
“I wouldn’t have been able to afford the holidays without being sponsored. I had a full fridge, some self-care items for me and lots of gifts for my baby girl. I wish they could’ve seen my daughter playing with her new toy for the first time. She was so excited. I got really emotional. Watching her light up like that was such a blessing and I know it made her feel really special. For the second year in a row, this has been an amazing experience.” Marie (Mom)
“It (to be sponsored) felt like love. I was needed to care for my husband for so long and after he died that all goes away. To be honoured with a gift by a younger person with energy and a heart to do so – I don’t know the words to use. My family is small. My younger daughter moved to Winnipeg last year and it was my first Christmas without my three rambunctious grandchildren. For a stranger to buy gifts, wrap them in beautiful paper and bows-I think it speaks volumes about that person’s character. I am blessed.” Jill (Senior)
“We had one single family mom that had escaped from domestic abuse and was celebrating her first Christmas with her 3-year-old daughter. She is a single mom and is going to school while raising her daughter. She was teary eyed at one point and gave us a huge hug before we left and thanked us for our generosity.” Business Group Sponsor
“Enjoyed the entire process. From shopping for the families young 2-year-old to providing for the mom and dad. This couple made me realize even more than I already did, what a struggle it can be for new Canadians. Nice young family who will be great contributors to Canada. Helped to get in touch with her before so I was able to shop for their favourites.” – Val