As a mom of three kids under five, I have a special duty when the holidays roll around. The tree, the gifts, the meals – I plan every single detail, trying to check every magical box. There isn’t a mother who wouldn’t try to do the same. Thanks to movies, commercials, and advertising, Christmas has become a season of the ‘wow factor’. And parents who provide their children with material luxuries and dazzling experiences, do so from privilege.
According to the United Way of Hamilton and Halton, as of 2021, 1 in 10 children in Halton live in poverty. Oakville has a poverty rate of 9.7% – the highest in Halton, while Burlington has the highest number of lone parent families (over 7,800) in the Halton region. And even more so, the demand for food supports in Halton and Hamilton increased by 13% from April 2019 to April 2020.
While gifts are certainly something to be admired, our friends and neighbours need basic necessities such as food. Through charities in Oakville and Burlington, residents like you and me can help families to create magical holiday moments.
Here are a few recommendations on where to start:
Kerr Street Mission
485 Kerr Street, Oakville | Kerrstreet.com
For more than 18 years, Kerr Street Mission has rallied the community through its “Christmas Wonders and Beyond” program. With the generosity of the community, they have been able to make sure every family that has come seeking help would be able to celebrate a wonderful Christmas. The last 18-months have been especially difficult for families seeking support. Many struggle every day to make ends meet and they know when Christmas comes, there won’t be extra funds. With your help, you can make a difference and provide for a family in need. Kerr Street Mission is accepting financial donations, starting at $100 to provide for a family of one this holiday season, all the way to $1,600 to provide support to a family for one year. Instead of exchanging gifts with your friends or extended family, you can rally together to give a family Christmas wonder.
Trevor and Kaela’s Christmas Collection
Jennifer Lombardo and her son Trevor started their annual Christmas collection back in 2014 when Trevor was only four. Now, their team includes Jennifer’s 3.5-year-old daughter, Kaela, as well.
Raised by a single mother, Jennifer knows firsthand how difficult Christmas can be for single parents. And she knew when she grew up, she not only wanted to give back but wanted to teach her children about the importance of giving back too.
Each year, Jennifer and her children collect toys, household items, gift cards, monetary donations, and more through generous donations in our community. All items collected are donated to families in Halton Region. After Trevor was diagnosed with autism in 2014, Jennifer decided to work with families who are barely making ends meet but often do not qualify for other services – especially those who have a family member with mental illness and/or Autism.
Visit their Facebook page to donate or purchase items from a family’s list. Every little bit helps. And, all donations are entered in to win a prize from a raffle!
Holiday Giving Program
Compassion Society || Compassionsocietyofhalton.com
The Compassion Society is an organization with over 1,000 clients living on or below the poverty line in Halton. For these individuals, the holidays are difficult and challenging to say the least. Through their Holiday Giving Program, the Compassion Society organizes and offers a Christmas Market where new, unwrapped gifts and retail cards are distributed to adults and children in need. In a tangible way, you can demonstrate your compassion and support to these individuals by donating gift cards or unwrapped gifts by the first week of December.