Making Christmas Wishes Come True for Winnipegers Experiencing Homelessness
Winnipeg, Manitoba – The Homeless Partners Christmas Wish List program has come to Winnipeg again this year, hoping to fulfill 177 Christmas gift wishes for Siloam Mission clients. Winnipeg volunteers with Hope worldwide of Canada interviewed 70 people who rely on Siloam’s services and wrote short profiles for the Homeless Partners website. People are encouraged to pledge the requested gifts and help to make these Christmas wishes come true.
“For many of our clients it has been years since they have received a gift for Christmas.” explains Amy Reinink, Manager of Transition Services at Siloam Mission. “This program has given them the opportunity to feel cared for and valued in a tangible way.”
Homelessness in Canada is at a crisis level, affecting 200,000 annually and 30,000 on any given night. In Winnipeg more than 2,000 men and women a year cope with these harsh realities. Behind these statistics are real human beings, each with personal stories that deserve to be heard.
Since 2005 the innovative Homeless Partners Christmas Wish List program has brought thousands of gifts to the less fortunate, leveraging their unique digital platform. Established in several Canadian cities now, volunteers connect with local organizations and interview people experiencing homelessness to document their stories and individual gift wishes. Shared on the website, community members can read the stories and send both personalized gifts and messages directly to the recipients through their homeless shelters.
This is the second year Winnipeg will participate in this project. Last year, the program generated almost 1,200 pledges to homeless recipients across Canada in 7 different cities and 20 different shelters. Now in Winnipeg HOPE worldwide of Canada volunteers have interviewed clients of Siloam Mission to hear their stories, post them online and are now doing whatever they can to ensure most, if not all of the 177 gift requests, are fulfilled this Christmas.
“I love everything about this program. The interviews open such meaningful communication. Volunteers’ hearts were moved and people appreciated the opportunity to tell their story.” says Kimberlee Potter, HOPE worldwide of Canada Winnipeg Chapter Director. “This program isn’t just about collecting donations; it’s about understanding a little more what our fellow Winnipeggers are going through and letting them know we care with a personal gift.”
Homeless Partners is non-profit, self-funded organization run entirely by volunteer efforts, dedicated to bringing these Canadians out of the shadows and engaging them in a community of compassion and respect. Started by Dan and Jennie Keeran in Vancouver in 2005, the Homeless Partners Christmas Wish List program is coordinated by a small number of individuals, who assist volunteers from local churches and organizations in starting and running the program in their city.
“We moved from the serenity of North Vancouver to the heart of downtown Vancouver. We couldn’t turn a blind eye to the homelessness issue.” said Jennie Keeran. “We decided to ask the homeless population one simple question, ‘What would you like for Christmas?” Now we ask this of people right across Canada.”
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