If I were to have interviewed, or simply listed all the individuals and organizations in and around Simcoe County that take the time to help others fill their bellies, clothe their children, and feel loved and valued, I’d likely have taken up the entire issue.
The Shoebox Project for Women and The Sharing Place Food Centre are two of many local organizations who provide a program that relieves the increased financial and mental stress as well as the high expectations that can accompany the festive season.
“The Shoebox Project for Women is a registered charity that collects and distributes gift-filled shoeboxes to women impacted by homelessness in communities across Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom. We’ve been in the Simcoe County area since 2013,” says Shannon Murree, Simcoe County & Simcoe Grey Coordinator.
This program is for women who’ve been displaced from their homes and alienated from their families, explains Murree. Consequently, special occasions can be particularly challenging, and women often “report feeling disconnected from society, invisible and alone. A Shoebox gift is a powerful reminder for a woman that she hasn’t been forgotten, and that she remains a valued and respected member of her community.”
“We’re happy to receive donations such as hand-written personal notes, services, supplies, and financial donations. What is great about this charity is that we’re on a National level. Donations are kept locally and help community members directly,” says Murree.
The final collection for holiday shoeboxes is December 6th at Barrie City Hall in support of women’s shelters. If you don’t have a chance to drop one off for the holiday project, shoeboxes are also collected throughout the year for occasions like International Women’s Day or Mother’s Day.
Another program that offers support and comfort to community members during the holiday season is The Sharing Place Food Centre in Orillia. They distribute over 450 holiday hampers to individuals and families who are food insecure, says Chris Peacock, Executive Director.
“The hamper is filled with the fixings for a wonderful holiday turkey dinner and breakfast. The festive season can bring a great deal of financial and mental stress along with expectations of providing your family with a holiday feast. When living in poverty, this pressure can be all encompassing, and we hope the support we provide during this season will help relieve some of that stress and provide comfort,” says Peacock.
This time of year is joyful and full of parties and gift sharing, but there are many people who spend it alone without food, toys, or provisions for their family.
“The Holiday Hamper program provides a great deal of comfort and support during the festive season, but it comes at a significant cost. If individuals in the community wish to help support this program, they can make a financial donation on our website. We can use these funds to purchase the ingredients that fill the hampers,” informs Peacock.
Thank you to everyone in Simcoe County who takes the time to give a little extra to our community during the festive season. Cheers!