Wind and Tide’s 2,000 preschoolers partner with UGM to provide Christmas hampers for 56 families this holiday season
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Vancouver, BC—When Rachel Cram began her first preschool in 1987 in the basement of her White Rock Home, she had no idea it would soon grow to 30 preschools, kindergartens and child development centers, spread across the Lower Mainland. But what she did know was that whether her schools were big or small, the ethos of giving back to the community would remain at the foundation. This season, these tiny tots are making a huge impact at Union Gospel Mission.
Every Christmas, UGM works with Vancouver’s most disadvantages families, who cannot afford Christmas dinner trimmings or presents for the family, and determines an individualized “wish list.” That list is then provided to those willing to help in the wider community. This year, over a quarter of the hamper items were filled not by the rich and powerful, but provided thanks to 2,000 Wind and Tide preschoolers.
“We’ve been able to provide 200 hampers for families as well as some singles,” explains Barb Atkins, Manager of UGM’s Women and Families Centre. “Each hamper is packed with all of the food items needed to prepare a tasty Christmas dinner including gift cards to purchase a turkey, groceries and dairy, as well as a personalized gift for each family member based on their hobbies and interests and an additional gift that the family can enjoy together. These hampers, valued at $350, provide families with much needed relief during the holidays.” This Christmas season, 2,000 preschool and kindergarten students in White Rock and across the Lower Mainland will provide essential food items and specially chosen gifts for 56 low-income families.
Cram believes in teaching her young students about the needs in their own communities and around the world. Working together to provide holiday hampers for local low-income families is a key part of this teaching. In November, each school received a list of much-needed food items, as well as information about the gender, age, interests and hobbies of each family member. Then the students at Wind & Tide get to work, bringing donations from home, gathering food, carefully choosing toys and gifts and slowly watching the hampers fill up.
“Three and four year olds are readily and eagerly accepting a responsibility to help others. They do not find it surprising to help, in fact they find it surprising not to help,” Cram says.
The Hamper Initiative, known at UGM as “Gifts of Hope” began in 2007 when Wind & Tide Schools partnered with Union Gospel Mission after families expressed an interest in meeting local needs and teaching their children to give where they live. What started out as Christmas stockings for school-aged children, transitioned into an annual toy drive. After a number of years of great success, including 2011 when over 1,600 toys, gifts and gift cards were collected, the preschools decided to supply entire hampers to low-income families through UGM.
This Christmas, the preschoolers will supply 56 families with hampers to get them through the holidays.
Rachel says that hampers are not only important to those who receive them, but also the children and families who give.
“When we give these young children the opportunity to express their innate compassion in a concrete manner at an early age, it changes parents and families,” she says. “When they see these characteristics flourish so easily in their children, it reminds us of our shared humanity.”
About Union Gospel Mission
Union Gospel Mission has been feeding hope and changing lives of men, women, youth, and children for over 70 years. Through its 7 locations in Metro Vancouver and the city of Mission, UGM provides counselling, education, safe housing, and alcohol and drug recovery 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 the lives of the broken, and offer dignity to those who feel cast aside. To learn more, visit www.ugm.ca.
About Wind & Tide
Rachel Cram, Director of Wind & Tides Schools, began her first preschool in the basement of her home in White Rock and has seen it grow into 30 preschools, kindergartens, childcare, afterschool programs and a family resource centre spread across the Lower Mainland. From the very beginning, the philosophy of Wind & Tides has been to start students on a path of altruistic living and awareness of the needs in their communities and abroad, through classroom instruction and hands on learning.
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