By Joanne Linka, Manager of Communication and Fund Development
Imagine leaving your war-torn country, your extended family, your home and job – leaving it all to hope for a better life here in Canada. Imagine travelling all that way with two small children, unsure what you were travelling towards, but hoping for safety and security. Imagine struggling to learn a new language and culture, all while looking for housing, schools, and a place to belong. Imagine that a year or so later, just when life starts to feel almost normal again, you start to notice angry looks from your neighbours and a sense of animosity from your landlord. He says that your children are too noisy and that you need to look for a new place to live, in a city where there are few affordable units for a family of 5. Imagine the fear and stress – not knowing if you and your family will be homeless and insecure again.
This is a story that we have heard on more than one occasion – families facing immense stress as they try to rebuild their lives in Victoria. We see fear, isolation and hopelessness in their faces as they struggle to overcome all the barriers that are facing them. One of our families came to us with this need in November. They were desperate and afraid, not sure who to turn to for help. As we worked through the issues with them, we realized that in the midst of the stress of dealing with housing, they were not going to be able to provide a Christmas for their children.
Enter in an incredibly generous family, committed to making Christmas special for one of our families. This family had decided to forgo giving gifts to each other, and instead provide gifts for a family in need. And provide they did! In an incredible outpouring of generosity, they bought gifts for the children and parents, gift cards for stores and services – even a gift card for a local restaurant so that mom and dad could have a date night. They came with boxes of treats and wrapping paper and bows – everything packed with love and care and words of support.
We were honoured to receive this bounty from the donor and then to pass it on to the family. It was an experience of pure joy for us to see the generosity of the donor and the immense gratitude of the family. There were tears, wonder and humble gratefulness from everyone concerned. And that is what Christmas is all about.
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