Add Hope To Your Christmas List Give To Those Less Fortunate
Victoria – Give a gift that will truly be appreciated, with the Homeless Partners Christmas Wish List. A toque, some socks, a moment of your time… these are some of the simple things that would warm the hearts of our city’s homeless population.
The Victoria Cool Aid Society and Shelbourne Street Church of Christ invite the people of greater Victoria to participate in the Homeless Partners Christmas Wish List project. Working together, we ask the residents of several shelters to share their experiences and hopes with us, and select a few basic items that they would appreciate as Christmas gifts. These stories and wish lists are then put on the web, where others can read them and decide if they’d like to buy a gift for one of the specific shelter residents. The gifts are then dropped off either at the Church building or shelter, and delivered in time for Christmas.
The purpose of this initiative is to show the homeless that they are not invisible, that they are loved. We also believe that it will allow people to see that the homeless are not a nameless, faceless, insurmountable issue, but individuals with different personalities and histories, that can be helped in this simple way.
Homeless Partners is a non-profit, self-funded program run entirely by volunteer efforts, in partnership with the staff at shelters where the program is offered. The program is coordinated by a small number of individuals, who assist volunteers from local churches in starting and running the program in their city. The Homeless Partners Christmas Wish List was started by Dan and Jennie Keeran in Vancouver in 2005.
“We moved from the serenity of North Vancouver to the heart of downtown Vancouver and knew we couldn’t turn a blind eye to the homeless issue,” said Jennie Keeran. “We decided to ask the homeless population one simple question: what would you like for Christmas? It is a question we continue to ask, but no longer just in Vancouver.”
The Homeless Partners project has brought thousands of gifts to the less fortunate at Christmas since 2005, and last year the project was operating in nine major cities across North America. This is the first year Victoria has participated in this project, and we hope to serve the 100+ residents of Next Steps, Sandy Merriman House and Streetlink.
“We don’t expect to cure homelessness,” said Monique Cummings, project coordinator from the Shelbourne Street Church of Christ, “but we do aspire to connect people personally and directly with the less fortunate, and raise awareness of both the problem and the vast amount of work going into a solution by wonderful associations like Cool Aid.”
Members of the public can help by visiting www.homelesspartners.com to learn more, reading the stories, buying gifts or volunteering to interview shelter residents or update the website. Due to the short-term nature of many shelter stays, most of the stories will appear in mid-December, so please check the site for updates as Christmas Day approaches.
Martin Moore, Preaching Pastor, Shelbourne Street Church of Christ
Jennie Keeran, Project Founder
Christine O’Brien, Victoria Cool Aid Society
Coordinator of Sandy Merriman House & Next Steps Transitional Shelter
250- 480-1408, cobrien@CoolAid.org