The Adopt a Family for the Holidays campaign responded to an overwhelming number of families in need.
The campaign made Christmas even more merry and meaningful for 84 West Kootenay families, thanks to the concerted efforts of Good Stuff and Kootenay West Distilling business owners Thomas and Ashley Hodgson, partner Annick de Goede, volunteers, and the generosity of sponsors and local businesses.
The campaign more than doubled in 2022, pairing sponsors with families who provided a ‘wish list’ with the number of children, their age and gender and what they would like to see under the Christmas tree.
The increase was unexpected, said Ashley, but the Christmas campaign left no one behind and took applications right up until Dec. 23.
“We will definitely look for other business partners next year. The 80 was a lot, but we learned a lot and we can probably do it again next year.”
To help streamline the Adopt a Family effort, the campaign would like to coordinate and share the task with non-profits, individuals and businesses in nearby municipalities like Castlegar, Rossland, and Fruitvale.
“It would be great to have a larger team of businesses that sign on every year to make a go of this thing,” said Thomas. “I’d like to get to a point where it’s an all year round thing. Because people are in need all year round, and not just only at Christmas.”
The campaign set up Santa’s workshop in the back of the Cedar Ave. craft distillery, where they organized and boxed more than 350 gifts and delivered them to the families.
“Having the space was the biggest thing,” said Ashley. “Not having to go up and down the stairs, like we did the previous year. We did a call out for volunteers and then did 50-60 per cent of the deliveries in three days.”
Rapid inflation, and the high cost of living has outstripped the ability of families to afford holiday luxuries, hence the record number of families signing up for the campaign. Ash says she would tear up regularly after reading the wish lists from many of the local families.
“The needs are so basic. One of the ones that stood out for me was: ‘We only want diapers for our baby, we don’t want anything for ourselves.’”
Their vision is to have local businesses coordinate with sponsors so it is a win-win for all involved. The businesses can promote their wares for families to see, and the sponsors can then follow up with a gift purchase, or, even better, a gift card to allow the parents to go shopping and then wrap the presents themselves.
“Retail therapy is a thing, it’s so nice to shop,” said coordinator de Goede. “It does brings serotonin to the brain, which is also why we suggest gift cards and why it happened so much this year, because it is nice to go into a store and pick out something for yourself or family.”
The Hodgson’s craft distillery and unique gift shop are trying to inject a much needed spark and renewed interest in the downtown core. Their charitable interests go beyond the holidays. On Oct. 1 the couple donated half the proceeds from their fifth anniversary sales to the FAIR (Family and Individual Resource) Society.
“Along with Good Stuff, we want to do a lot of charity work through the distillery as well,” said Ash. “It’s about revitalizing and giving back and getting Trail back to what it once was.”
Kootenay West Distilling is currently expanding its seating capacity to 50 and will be closed for a month while it undertakes renovations. The Hodgsons plan to work with West Kootenay farmers and growers and offer a farm to table menu filled with locally produced fare.
The Adopt a Family campaign would like to thank the volunteers, sponsors, and the donations from the many businesses and partners that made their efforts worthwhile, and the Christmas holidays happier for Greater Trail families.