Christmas Hamper ‘Store’ Allows Low Income Families to ‘Shop’ for Christmas
(Vancouver) – A radical new Christmas Hamper Program allows families to ‘shop’ for their free Christmas Hamper at a Union Gospel Mission ‘store’, providing choice while empowering parents to earn hampers by attending free financial workshops or volunteering.
“We’ve turned the traditional Christmas Hamper upside down,” says UGM’s Jeremy Hunka. “This new program provides for families during a difficult time, while also restoring dignity through choice, and sparking long-term change through financial workshops.”
The new program puts low income parents in control of their own Christmas, allowing them to choose specific gifts for their families at the UGM ‘store’, rather than simply receiving a handout in the form of a pre-made gift basket. In order to receive a hamper, recipients must be willing to either volunteer at the ‘store’ or attend a free budgeting workshop, with exceptions.
“There is a degree of shame that can come with applying for a Christmas Hamper,” says Jessica Domingo, a former hamper recipient and current volunteer. “I think this program alleviates the financial stress of Christmas and also a bit of that shame…Parents are not just receiving, they are contributing.”
Presents will also be wrapped onsite and parents will be given a ride home. They will also be connected to credit counselling courses through a partnership with the Credit Counselling Society.
“Our neighborhood has a child poverty rate of 74%, despite many parents working hard to make ends meet for their families all year long,” says Hunka. “This program recognizes their diligent work and restores dignity to their family.”
“It’s pretty great considering we wouldn’t have a Christmas without it,” says hamper recipient and single mother Christina Carlick. “I know what my four kids want so I can choose instead of a stranger guessing…and the budget workshop made me think about my life and what I’m going to do.”
The new program, which is specific to family hampers and open to registered recipients, launches at UGM on Monday December 18th. If successful, it may be expanded to include senior and single hampers in the future.
What: Media are invited to tour the new ‘store’ and speak to hamper recipients
Date: Monday, December 18th
Where: 616 East Cordova, UGM Women and Families Centre
Hamper Program Sponsor: The 700 Club Canada
Senior PR Specialist, Union Gospel Mission
Cell: (604) 996-1417
ABOUT UNION GOSPEL MISSION
Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing lives of men, women, youth, and children for more than 75 years. Through its seven locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides emergency shelter, meals, outreach, career development counselling, education, safe and affordable housing, addiction recovery, and much more to those struggling with poverty, homelessness and addiction. The heart of the mission is to demonstrate God’s transforming love, ease the burden of the most vulnerable, rebuild lives and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To learn more, visit www.ugm.ca.
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