City’s Adopt a Child program brings cheer at holiday time to families in need

By Roderick Benns

In past years there have been plenty of donations to share. File photo.

Not all families can give gifts to their children in the way they would like. For those families who are on Ontario Works, disability, or receiving childcare subsidies, the city’s Adopt a Child program can help.

The program ensures about 50 to 100 families are assisted each year, as well as about 50 seniors at Victoria Manor. Cheri Davidson, the city’s manager, communications, advertising & marketing, says Human Services staff reach out to the people they serve who have children or youth to see if they would be interesting in participating.

General information is gathered, such as age, preferences, needs and sizes of the children. Staff will match a child with a donor who will purchase the gifts. The gifts generally come unwrapped so that the parent can know what the gifts will be and be able to wrap them, Davidson says.

“One staff member shared that a family was overwhelmed with emotion at the generosity and said that they would not have had any presents for their child without this program,” she said.

The program started in 2008 when Janine Mitchell, manager, human services (Social Services) at the municipality, was approached by Fairview Baptist Church inquiring how they could contribute to the community. That was the spark of the program and by 2011, “we had staff both within Human Services and across different departments including Parks and Recreation volunteering to adopt a family for Christmas,” says Davidson.

The founding organizers in Human Services were Mitchell, Andrea Williams, Jenni Lembke, and Kim Redmond.

The Victoria Manor program has been running for about 10 years and is organized by Jody Clements, Social Services. Similar to the Adopt A Child program, the city staff members match a donor with a resident of the manor and purchase gifts.

The Human Services department also donates to the Food Drive and the Kinsmen Toy Drive. This year the Kinsmen Toy Drive barrel was overflowing, says Davidson.

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