Santa’s West Kootenay elves are making the holiday season a bit brighter for Greater Trail families.
It doesn’t happen often enough, but paying it forward is something a trio of Greater Trail women needed to do this holiday season.
Inspired by Adopt a Senior program and the Mamas for Mamas campaign, Annick de Goede, Tamara Boden and Danielle Peet created Adopt a Family for the Holidays.
“There was a group in the Kootenays, Mamas for Mamas, and they didn’t have enough volunteers this year to do an adopt-a-family program,” explained de Goede. “So instead of them doing it, we stepped up basically to help connect families to families that cannot afford Christmas.”
The three friends independently started a Facebook group that asks residents for their support and for families who need help to contact them through private email and/or the online portal.
“It was really important that the people who asked for help stay anonymous,” said Boden. “We don’t ask to see your proof of income. If you ask us for help, we’re going to believe you need help, so I just ask people a few basic questions like names of their kids, ages of their kids, interests, and general location.”
Information gleaned from the families are passed on to the sponsors, who can drop off the gifts at Good Stuff in downtown Trail, where they will be wrapped and delivered to the families before Christmas.
So far, the group has connected 62 families, 31 families who requested support and 31 families who have committed to sponsorship.
“Basically, our role in this is match maker,” said Boden. “We are just pairing up the people who want to give to people who need help.”
The Adopt a Family campaign extends to all of Greater Trail and Castlegar, and there is a similar group in Nelson and Salmo. Sponsor families are asked to provide two or three new, unwrapped gifts for each child, so they can be confirmed and sanitized before becoming part of Santa’s outgoing collection.
Events planner Danielle Peet says that Adopt a Family has extended the deadline to Dec. 10, and are encouraging even more people to participate in the gift of giving.
“We have put together a list, as well, of things that a lot of the families could probably use that aren’t specific to each child,” said Peet. “And so people are welcome to drop off these items here (at Good Stuff) or at Kootenay Family Place in Castlegar and we will include them in the family packages as well.”
As a Good Stuff employee, de Goede’s efforts are supported by the owners, who have also pledged to match any in-store purchases for the program.
de Goede understands from personal experience, what it’s like to be in a vulnerable position and how acts of kindness can make a difference in a family’s life.
“I was separated last year, and I was in a very dark, sad place,” said de Goede. “The owners of Good Stuff were one of the reasons why I survived and am thriving; but also the ‘Mamas for Mamas’ program last year, they sponsored me and I had an amazing Christmas because of it.”
Families have struggled through COVID and, as the CERB (Canada Emergency Response Benefit) runs out, many more will experience a difficult and lean holiday season.
All three believe every child should experience the magic of Christmas — and so should their moms and dads.
“It’s about more than just giving kids gifts too,” added Boden. “It is about showing these families that their community cares.”
Families can join the group at www.facebook.com/groups/adoptafamilytrailbc.
Drop off new and unwrapped gifts at Good Stuff at 1186 Cedar Ave. in Trail or Kootenay Family Place in Castlegar.