The holiday season can mean so much more for those who are most vulnerable in our society, for better or worse.
The South Okanagan Women in Need Society’s annual Share the Spirit Christmas hamper program hopes to ensure it is for the better.
“I’m always at the location when women come to pick up their hampers and you witness women who break down and cry, they are truly touched by the help that they are getting,” said Sheila Robertson, outreach worker for SOWINS as well as the organizer of the event.
SOWINS is inviting the community to sponsor hampers for families or single women who have used SOWINS services in the past year to help give a Christmas meal and gifts to those with nowhere else to turn.
The hampers aim to feed a family for one week, which equates to about $60 in groceries or grocery vouchers for a single woman and for a family with one child about $125 worth, adding $25 for each extra child in a family. The other component of the hamper is giving each person in a family two gifts. Sponsors will be matched up with families and given a shopping list for items they need.
For those unable to sponsor an entire family, donations and monetary contributions will also be accepted and used for gifts at the children’s Christmas party put on by SOWINS, to create hampers, or as gifts for those staying at the Transition House during Christmas. Donations can be dropped off at the SOWINS office at #303 246 Martin St. which is open Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“Not everybody can afford to help a whole family, it is a lot to ask for somebody to do that, so you can drop off a toy, a grocery voucher, groceries, personal care products, all kinds of different things,” Robertson said, noting that all products do need to be new.
The Christmas party for children and families using SOWINS services takes place on Dec. 7 with a turkey dinner and an appearance by Santa Claus with each child receiving a gift, as well as the parents.
The holidays can be a crucial time for women who come to SOWINS.
“We deal with a lot of women who are not only leaving abusive relationships, but poverty is a real issue for them. They are starting over again, or maybe they don’t make that much money, so this is a hard time for them,” Robertson said. “They are wanting to provide Christmas for their family and Christmas for themselves as well. This really helps.”
The deadline for the hampers to be ready is Dec. 9 and the hampers will be distributed Dec. 9-10. Anybody who wants to sponsor a family can call Liz at 250-493-4366 ext. 120 or firstname.lastname@example.org.