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Community Christmas – Christmas Across the Mission

two smiling women serve cake on a plate

 

AT WILLOW’s PLACE, one of our staff shares her memories of Christmas Day, 2017:
“The morning was filled with Christmas songs and snacks. By lunchtime, we had built a rapport with one another and learned each others’ names. I wrote down everyone’s name on a separate label, placed each of them on a present, and placed the presents under the tree.

Later, the women sat down to open their gifts. They were shocked and wondered if the gifts were really for them. They were each given a gift with their name on it.

The gifts were full of socks, scarves, gloves, chocolates, candies and many other goodies. Some of the women had tears in their eyes – they were so grateful.

Although some of them weren’t guaranteed a place to rest after the program closed, they left with a feeling of hope, a joyous memory, and a box full of gifts to keep them warm and safe on their journey.”

This Christmas season, the women who come to Willow’s Place will be able to participate in many pre-holiday activities including making Christmas crafts, decorating a Christmas tree with their homemade ornaments, and all women will be able to share a Christmas day meal and receive a gift.

Most importantly, they will not be alone on the street with nowhere to go. For a few hours, they will gather with others in a safe, warm space and share a meal.

“Christmas can be a difficult time for us…but the staff at Willow’s Place were so kind. They made us feel special, and gave us hope on a day that can feel hopeless.” – Willow’s Place participant

The Christmas season at INASMUCH HOUSE (IH) can be a very difficult time for some women. The staff are very supportive, and respectful of all women and children during this time, while working to make the season special for all.

Any women and children who want to participate are welcome to make holiday crafts together, decorate a Christmas tree, decorate IH, share a traditional holiday meal together, and take part in Sponsor a Family.

Sponsor a Family is a program that allows moms and kids at IH to give one another gifts. Amazing community members sponsor families, allowing them to take part in this wonderful aspect of Christmas.

“The Sponsor a Family program allows me to fully share in the Christmas season with my children,
and ensure they have special memories for years to come.”
– Inasmuch House Resident

In our GOOD FOOD CENTRE, staff, volunteers, and participants know the importance of the season.

The ability to share a Christmas meal with one another is a feeling like no other. The warmth, joy, and peace that good food can bring helps bring the season to life.

And being able to give your children gifts – to see the excitement on their faces when they open something you lovingly picked out for them – nothing can compare.

“Thanks to the Christmas care program, I get to choose gifts for my kids. I don’t get to see
my daughter often, so I don’t really know what she likes. But the staff help me choose,
and I get to see my daughter and make her Christmas special.” –
Addiction Services participant

Unfortunately, not everyone in our community is able to enjoy these aspects of the Christmas season. However, because of our community’s generosity, Mission Services can provide a traditional holiday meal, and help our community share the memories of opening gifts with one another.

Cooking, baking, Christmas crafts, outdoor activities in the snow – these are what can make the Christmas season so fun.

The YOUTH IN OUR COMMUNITY, including our Afterschool Program The 196, get to participate in all these things – and a Christmas camp! During this time, other youth programs in the community will be invited to participate in Christmas activities, the Christmas camp, and a Christmas meal.

“No child should be without healthy meals”
– Program Client in the Community

Every year, our ALTERNATIVE JUSTICE staff and participants create Christmas wreaths from real fir branches, making the building smell like a winter wonderland. This year, they’ve extended the invitation to women at Willow’s Place.

Christmas at the MEN’S RESIDENCE is a busy time, made so special thanks to amazing community groups who come to sing and perform for the men. Hundreds of Christmas meals are served, and the men get a gift on Christmas morning thanks to thoughtful donors.

“…for many of these men who have no family to be with on this day,
this expression of kindness often puts a smile on their face, and brings words of sincere thanks for what donors and the community do to help alleviate some of their loneliness and isolation.

Your help brings a glimmer of kindness and compassion to those in need in our shelter system.”
– Victor Cyr, Chaplain