By Greg Price
Staff/volunteers at Safe Haven’s Women’s Shelter society took it upon themselves to do the footwork for its Adopt-a-Family Program, and with it, saw some increased success.
“We switched things up a bit from the year before just because we had people who were interested in participating, but not really doing the shopping for the family, because they didn’t have the time for it,” said Catherine Champagne, executive director of Safe Haven Women’s Shelter Society. “Normally, if they want to be matched with a family, we ask them what size and we match them with a family. There are three needs and one want which is what everyone’s list is that are done up by the clients. We offered to do the shopping if they wanted to make a monetary donation or a donation by gift card.”
With the leg work being done, Safe Haven saw an increase from 34 families participating in 2018, to 52 families in 2019 for the holiday season.
The lists were not what you would commonly think of around the Christmas season. A whopping 96 per cent of children participants wish lists contained at least three requests that were not toys. There were 93 per cent of adult individuals which included at least 1 grocery store gift card on their wish list. Nearly half of participants requested socks, underwear, diapers or other basic hygiene needs. Thirty per cent of individual wish lists included winter gear and shovels.
“Personally, it blew me away that when we asked people for three needs and a want, their want came up to something that to you and I would be a basic need that we don’t have to worry about going without, like socks or underwear or a jacket,” said Champagne. “There were some things that we already had that were donated, so we had some pick out a new want, something that would be a treat for them.”
In total, 63 adults, 62 kids and three pets were helped through the Adopt-a-Family program, with all sponsors being local. There were 27 Tim Hortons and 35 additional $50 grocery gift cards that were given out.
“This year, we also had the ability to give some people trees and decorations for their trees. It was especially nice for some families we had in shelters who are now in the community with their own homes and working in the community, but just aren’t able to provide that festive spirit. It was nice to give them something, even if it was something small,” said Champagne, adding eight families were given Christmas trees, and 13 received lights or ornaments. “We try and to do the program early to get the list going, but it goes right to the end, where we even do lists for ladies who are in shelter a week before Christmas. The need is there and we don’t have a shortage of people who need this program.”