Local organizations partner to help families in need

By Miriam Ostermann, Associate Editor

Despite a provincial budget that dripped with red ink and slashed available government funds to non-profit organizations across the province this year, three local organizations are forging ahead with plans to provide several families with a Christmas this season, owing to their collaboration and community involvement.
The Strathmore Overnight Shelter (SOS), Scotiabank and Tina’s No Frills partnered up to sponsor at least four families who are struggling to make ends meet this holiday season with their new initiative: Adopt a Family.
With provincial cutbacks, the organizations are seeking business and community input in raising nearly $500 worth of gift cards and toys for each family.
“Funding is running out for non-profits, and without the business sponsors and people in the community, it’s going to be harder and harder to survive without help,” said Richard Rodgers, director of outreach for SOS.
“Things are picking up a little bit, but everyone wants to help each other. That’s a good thing about small towns, that we stick together and get things done. Because the shelter isn’t open, we’d like to give as much as we can in the meantime. With our sponsors and people in the community, this is the beginning of – hopefully – a long-lasting relationship.”
Members of the shelter contacted the local grocery store and financial institution – both of which had shown previous commitment – after identifying the need in the community.
Nearly two months ago, Tina’s No Frills donated $5,000 to the shelter from a three-week-long campaign involving its patrons.
Tina Shipley, owner and operator of Tina’s No Frills, said she was excited about the project and understands the importance of lending a hand when possible.
“Christmas is such a hard time for so many people, so if there’s something that we can do just to help a few of them out, then we definitely want to do that,” said Shipley.
The Adopt a Family initiative has already received the names of four families in and around Strathmore, with some being victims of the recent grass fires. Rodgers estimated that with the existing backing from local business and sponsors, enough donations will be raised to accommodate more than four families.
That is an objective Scotiabank wants to get behind. For years, the banking institution got involved in causes in communities where its branches were situated. Having donated to local charities and organizations in the past, Scotiabank was more than willing to join the partnership.
“Every community focuses on different things, so we also made a substantial donation for the hamper as well, plus other stuff we do throughout the year; but it’s just a matter of figuring out what we want our priorities to be,” said Joshua Gordon, Scotiabank branch manager.
“It’s a really cool idea. The idea was driven by the folks at the overnight shelter, and they approached us. Both Scotiabank and Tina’s No Frills were happy to contribute.”
Donations of toys and gift cards are already being accepted at Tina’s No Frills and Scotiabank which have bins set up for the cause. No monetary donations will be accepted. The deadline for the Adopt a Family initiative is Dec. 1.