Everyone has a Christmas wish, and this year it is hoped that the wishes of those without a place to call home can come true.
Efforts have been made to compile wish lists from the homeless and those living in shelters in Vernon, among several other areas, at www.homelesspartners.com.
Personal stories are shared of how some of these individuals have ended up in such dire situations. Accompanying their stories are a few wish list items.
“This is an effort to promote a personal connection between individual homeless/sheltered people and those in the community,” said Amanda Bailey, local Christmas Wish organizer.
“It encourages the community to treat the homeless as people of equal worth and dignity rather than ‘invisible.’”
While many of our own wish lists are filled with high-tech gadgets and frivilous items, these wish lists take on a more basic form.
Items such as warm shoes, sweaters and the most sought after, blankets, make up the Christmas wishes of those who have very little.
“Everyone wants to feel cared for and this is a safe and effective way to raise awareness about the issue so that decision-makers can be encouraged to take significant actions to help on a more permanent basis,” said Bailey.
“Many people want to help the homeless but aren’t sure how best to help them. They are reluctant to give money because they want to ensure their gift won’t be used in unhealthy ways.
“The Christmas Wish List is a way to provide direct, personal expressions of caring by delivering a gift or message directly to people that need it most.”
In Vernon, the John Howard Society shelter staff and volunteers are providing stories for the website.
The Howard House men’s shelter provides emergency shelter beds, transitional beds and a supportive recovery program.
The Gateway Shelter provides men and women emergency shelter in the downtown core area of Vernon to the absolute homeless who may be suffering from economic downturn, illiteracy, addictions or mental health challenges.
And stories continue to be added as additional interviews take place.
Those who would like to give some hope this Christmas can visit the website and register to take gifts and letters and cards to the addressed individual at the shelter. The shelter distributes gifts and cards to the intended individual using name and ID.
“Add hope to your Christmas wish list and give to those less fortunate,” said Bailey.
For individuals without computer access, both shelters are in need of winter clothing and warm winter boots and jackets, that would be appreciated as they are quite low in supplies for both men and women.
Donations can be brought to the Howard House at 2307 43rd St.
“Staff would welcome any donations to disperse between shelters.”