Jan 10, 2023
Obviously nothing can replace being with your family over the holidays, but thanks to all of the support we received for our Holidays of Hope Campaign, everyone seemed to have a good festive season.
For many of us, this was the first “normal” holiday season we have had in recent years with all restrictions lifted, festive activities resumed and big family gatherings planned. While there is nothing “normal” about spending Christmas in care, thanks to our generous donors, we too were able to fill the season with festive activities that made the holidays meaningful for the young people in our care.
Togetherness seemed to be a theme in many of our programs this year which was very heartwarming to witness. At Sullivan House, for example, the residents received matching PJs which they loved and all proudly wore for days on end. Jubien House had a movie night on Christmas eve where each resident was given a hot chocolate mug with their initial on it and a cozy blanket. They too loved the matching element of this activity and the gifts associated with it. At Cogswell House the residents came together to present a united case for why they should be allowed to open at least one present on Christmas eve. After some fun negotiations, of course, they won and then took turns opening their gifts and proudly showing off what they received. We also happened to have a resident at the Reigh Allen Centre this year who still believed, so it was great to see everyone come together to make sure the magic stayed alive for him. The Youth Care Team even left him a note from Santa in response to the cookies and milk he left out. He was thrilled when he found it on Christmas morning.
Some of the young people were able to go home for a family visit over the holidays which was wonderful. For those who were with us, however, we filled the days with activities and experiences that were meaningful to them. Holiday movie nights happened in most programs and there was a gingerbread house competition throughout the organization. The young people at the Reigh Allen Centre also had a karaoke night, played Just Dance, and even planned “spirit week” leading up to the holidays with theme days and tons of fun activities. At Jubien House, our Recreation Therapist took the residents on a holiday light tour around Halifax. They painted Santas and had several movie nights with themed snacks and their matching blankets. The young men at Cogswell House woke up to the smell of turkey on Christmas morning and all took turns teasing the Youth Care Team about how they wanted things prepared or cooked. They had a great time playing “backseat chefs” as their way of being involved in the making of their special dinner.
Obviously nothing can replace being with your family over the holidays, but thanks to all of the support we received for our Holidays of Hope Campaign, everyone seemed to have a good festive season. Our team of elves made sure that there was something special under the tree for everyone and it really seemed to make a difference. Two of the young women at the Reigh Allen Centre commented how shocked they were to find so many presents waiting for them under the tree. The Youth Care Team said their smiles widened with ever item they opened. A Jubien House resident was so impressed with his presents that he commented on how amazing it was that people were so thoughtful and kind that they wanted to do this for “kids in care”. He seemed genuinely touched by the kindness, as was a young woman from Johnson House who said she had never received so many presents before. She was so overwhelmed that she asked the Youth Care Team to make sure her gratitude was appropriately expressed because she wasn’t sure she had sufficiently done so. Our donors helped to make these warm feelings possible at a time that could have been very sad and lonely for these young people. We cannot thank everyone enough for their support.
It seemed everyone found something that was their favorite, whether it was a specific item that they could tell was picked out special with them in mind or even a gift card that allowed them to have some independence and a sense of normalcy when they went out with their friends. On top of all of stocking stuffers and gifts that were donated, over $17,000 was raised to keep the celebrations going. This money has already funding outings and activities over the holiday season and will continue to ensure that every holiday and special occasion in 2023 is meaningful as well. We understand that every young person is unique, and this money allows us to fund celebrations and other meaningful holidays that reflect their diverse cultures and traditions.
Thank you to everyone who supported our Holidays of Hope Campaign. You really made a difference in the lives of a group of young people that needed to be reminded that holiday magic still exists.