Homeless Partners Christmas Wish List
Victoria – Giving the perfect gift is such a great feeling, and every year we rack our brains and scour the malls for this very reason. It’s also a great feeling to help those who are less fortunate than us, and every year there are a myriad of wonderful ways we can make a difference. Well this year, we all have the opportunity to do both, with the Homeless Partners Christmas Wish List, found at www.homelesspartners.com.
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. The Victoria Cool Aid Society and Shelbourne Street Church of Christ are joining forces on this project where we ask the residents of several shelters to share their experiences and hopes with us, and select a few items that they would appreciate as Christmas gifts. These stories and wish lists are then put on the web (under the residents’ first names), where people can read them and choose a gift to buy for one of the specific shelter residents. The gifts are then dropped off at the reception counter at the shelter in time for Christmas.
The response last year was overwhelming. Many Victorians were so generous and understood not only how much it meant to simply read the stories or send an encouraging Christmas card, but also what an impact it would have on the residents to receive what they wanted; for example, to get a pay-as-you-go cell phone and be able to put a contact number other than the shelter on their resume.
There were a total of 69 interviews done last year and due to overwhelming generosity of the people of this city and surrounding areas each person was given at least one gift, with many receiving everything they asked for.
“For some people in our city there is no home for the holidays,” says Dan Hickman, volunteer for the program. “People can change the life of a homeless person right here in Victoria.”
The purpose of this initiative is to show the homeless that they are not invisible, that someone cares. It also allows people to see that the homeless are not unknown and nameless, but real people with personal stories, who can feel the joy of Christmas 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. Since 2005, the project has brought thousands of gifts to the less fortunate and touched many more hearts in cities across North America.
This is the third year Victoria is participating, and we hope to serve the 100+ residents of Next Steps, Sandy Merriman House and the Rock Bay Landing shelter.
We are hoping to connect people personally and directly with the homeless, to raise awareness of both the problem and the vast amount of work going into a solution by wonderful associations like Cool Aid. We’ll have succeeded if people spend even five minutes reading the stories we’ve been able to record.
Members of the public can help by visiting www.homelesspartners.com to learn more, reading the stories, buying gifts or volunteering in some way. Due to the short-term nature of many shelter stays, we’ll continue to add stories to the site a week before the Holiday, so please check for updates as Christmas Day approaches.
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Jennie Keeran, Project Founder
firstname.lastname@example.org, Phone 778-433-1547
Dan Hickman, Media Contact for Victoria HomelessPartners Project
LtDanHickman@gmail.com, Phone 250-893-2940
Christine O’Brien, Victoria Cool Aid Society
Coordinator of Sandy Merriman House & Next Steps Transitional Shelter
cobrien@CoolAid.org, Phone 250-480-1408
Joann Connolly, Victoria Cool Aid Society
Rock Bay Landing shelter
jconnolly@CoolAid.org, Phone 250-383-1951