Family Services of Greater Vancouver helps less fortunate locals
By Aaron Guillen, Staff Reporter
While Christmas is known as a joyous occasion, it inarguably revolves around the spending of money. In many cases, the price tag that is placed on families during the season is too much to bear, especially for those living in expense-filled Metro Vancouver. For those struggling to survive the holidays in New Westminster, there are multiple organizations across the city willing to lend a helping hand—one of which being Family Services of Greater Vancouver.
Now in their sixth year, the Family Services of Greater Vancouver is offering the chance to brighten someone else’s day with their adopt-a-family and adopt-a-senior programs this holiday season. The program tries its best to match the giver and the receiver(s) according to what their needs or wants are, and most importantly, the amount willing to be donated.
“The piece of advice I’d like to tell people for the wish list or gift ideas is to think of a range. Sometimes kids really want an iPad, but sponsors can’t always buy iPads,” said Patricia Steiner, coordinator of community education and development service, to New Westminster Record. “Having a range of gift ideas is really helpful.”
“It’s not first-come, first-served. What we do is make sure that people are eligible. Sometimes a donor will come and say, ‘I really want a family that has a boy and a girl who are under nine because that’s my family.’ We match as we go along.”
Registration is nearing its end by the beginning of December, with plans to personally distribute all items to each family’s home by December 16. There is no need to worry about missing the deadline, though. Many organizations—including Family Services—accept and rely on monetary donations to fuel their initiatives. Family Services noted that while specific presents are fantastic for children, gift cards are most ideal, as they give families far more options to create a Christmas specifically designed for them.
Steiner noted to the New Westminster Record that they are still accepting donations of money. Usually, the charitable organization purchases gift cards at Walmart or Superstore. Furthermore, they divide the money between whoever is on their waiting list in order to ensure that no one walks away empty handed. According to Family Services, 150 family units, both families with children or seniors, were connected with sponsors, totaling 287 children and 216 adults in 2014.
“Some people don’t want to connect face-to-face but they really want to have an impact,” explained Steiner to New Westminster Record. “We take care of it. When it comes down to the final days, it’s probably easier for us to give gift cards to families because then the parents can buy exactly what their kids want. It empowers the parents in a way, too.”