"The need just doesn't go away."
Those were the words that launched The Record's first Guide to Giving back in 1996, and those words are still true today.
The Record's annual Guide to Giving offers local residents information about some of the organizations that need their help.
We encourage readers to sift through the lengthy list, appearing in this edition and next Wednesday's paper, and choose one, two or more to help.
This is true bang for your buck, to put it bluntly. Any help you can give is guaranteed to make a difference for a person or family, or even a pet, in need.
If Christmas is a dilemma for you in trying to find that perfect and meaningful gift for someone, helping an agency in this list is another surefire choice. Most will issue tax receipts. Why not donate in your friend or family member's name and give them the receipt? The tax receipt might mean more to them than that accompanying festive tie or state-of-the-art pepper mill.
At this time of year, the plight of people living in poverty is highlighted. Many social service agencies are saying the need is greater than it's ever been - and is only going to grow.
Theresa McManus, the reporter who compiles the guide every year, says she is always struck by the important work done by the organizations and how much that work matters to people in need.
NEW WESTMINSTER FAMILY PLACE
New Westminster Family Place welcomes donations for the drop-in programs it's offering in various parts of the Royal City.
Family Place offers parent education programs, support groups, workshops, volunteer programs and free drop-ins for parents and children. The drop-ins feature playtime, crafts and snack time.
Marjorie Staal, executive director, said Family Place welcomes donations of diapers that can be packaged up and given to families. Apple juice and toilet paper are always appreciated for its drop-in programs.
Family Place offers drop-in programs Monday to Saturday at its main location at 93 Sixth St., but it also operates a dropin at the Hospitality Project on Tuesdays and Wednesday. In the past year, it's started operating drop-ins in the West End (Fridays) and at F.W. Howay Elementary (Thursdays).
"It's going very well. Twelfth Street is booming and Howay is wonderful," Staal said. "It has certainly increased our numbers."
For more information or to help Family Place, call 604-520-3666.
CANADIAN MENTAL HEALTH ASSOCIATION
The recent suicides of professional hockey players have highlighted the need to address mental health issues.
Since 1958, the Simon Fraser branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association has provided support for people with mental illness and has promoted public education to reduce stigma. Its mission is to promote hope and recovery through listening, advocating, educating, forming collaborative solutions and providing supportive housing.
"Most mental health organizations are underfunded," said Rodney Baker, executive director of the Simon Fraser branch. "Mental health is not a very trendy cause to give to. It is a worthwhile one to contribute to."
The association offers a variety of programs such as computer training, outreach, thrift store and smoking cessation. Its aim is to provide skills that help people find their way back into the workforce.
The local branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association also provides five transitional houses, which help to provide skills for people coming out of 24hour care.
Cash donations help the association to provide services that aren't funded, such as computer training for people with mental illness. The society also welcomes donations for its Treasure Chest thrift store that's located at 435 Sixth St.
Baker encourages residents to think of the Canadian Mental Health Association if they're getting rid of items in the New Year. He said the thrift store is a "very important" to the society.
"It is an important part of funding for the organization," he said.
In addition to donations, the Treasure Chest also welcomes volunteers who help stock merchandise and run the store.
The Canadian Mental Health Association's Simon Fraser branch has about 120 clients from New Westminster, who range from 17 to over 70 years of age.
The society is holding a Christmas drop-in for its clients on Dec. 19.
Donations of food are appreciated and any extra donations will be dispersed to clients.
"Most of them live on the poverty line," Baker noted.
The association is also accepting donations for the Yoga for Mental Health program that allows a number of its clients to practise yoga to lessen the symptoms of mental illness.
Planning is underway for the second Miles for Mental Health walk/run that will take place at Queen's Park on May 12, 2012. People can support the association by providing donations toward the event or attending the fundraiser.
"It's a walk or a run," Baker said of the event that attracted 250 people in 2010.
"You can run five kilometres or walk 2.5 km."
The Simon Fraser Branch serves the communities of New Westminster, Port Moody, Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows. It assists more than 500 people a year through its various programs.
To donate or volunteer, call 6045168080.
FRASERSIDE COMMUNITY SERVICES
Fraserside Community Services Society is getting close to wrapping up its annual adopt-a-family program - but there's still time to get involved.
Individuals or groups have the option of adopting a family and buying the gifts and food donations themselves, or making a contribution to Fraserside so it can buy the items.
Diane Cairns, director of Fraserside's Living Well programs, said 115 families (with 225 children among them) have been sponsored to date and some who registered were put on a waiting list. Others weren't even placed on the waiting list, but were told to call back at the beginning of December to see if sponsors were available to help them out - which they are now doing.
"We have turned away 68 families," she said. "We didn't even collect their information. We take 100 guaranteed. We take the next 30, take their phone numbers and if we can, we contact them."
In 2010, Fraserside helped 173 families (including nearly 600 children) through its adopt-a-family program and expects to assist a similar number this year.
"It is the hardest part," Cairns said about turning people away. "We get rewarded at the other end."
Cairns said families that are sponsored
through the adopt-a-family program are grateful for the support they receive from their sponsors. Although 90 per cent of this year's sponsors have participated in past years, she is impressed with the number of first-time sponsors who have signed on for this year's program.
"The need has not diminished," she said. "It has only increased. It increases every year. The number of people getting involved is also increasing."
If people don't have time to shop for a family, Cairns said the society welcomes cash donations, which allow the society to hit the malls on their behalf.
Cairns said she gets the impression that people have come to realize that Christmas isn't just about commercialism and consumerism, and now recognize it's an opportune time to help others. She said one man who adopted a family told his co-workers what he had done, and five of them decided to adopt families in the name of someone on their own Christmas lists instead of getting them a traditional gift.
"It seems to be an acceptable thing for the person receiving the gift," she said. "It seems to be an acceptable thing to give."
The guidelines indicate that donors should plan to spend $150 to $200 in food, and $50 to $75 per child. Smaller donations are also appreciated as they can be pooled together to support a family.
Fraserside Community Services offers a range of services including community living, employment, housing and mental health supports. Its Living Well department provides programs for low-income families such as ESL conversation circles, cooking clubs, the Biggest Little Garden in Town, adopt-a-family and a camping bureau.
Cairns said people who make financial donations to Fraserside can specify what program they want to support.
While low-income families appreciate support at Christmas, Cairns said they have year-round needs that Fraserside helps to address. She noted that one company has indicated a desire to sponsor a family year-round by providing a hamper at Christmas, school supplies in September and birthday gifts for the children.
"We do get a lot of requests for assistance with school supplies and school clothing," she noted. "September is another difficult time for low-income people."
To support the adopt-a-family program, call Fraserside at 604-522-3722, extension 114.
LOWER MAINLAND PURPOSE SOCIETY FOR YOUTH AND FAMILIES
The Lower Mainland Purpose Society for Youth and Families offers a wide variety of programs to clients.
The non-profit society provides social, health and educational programs to New Westminster, Burnaby and the Tri-Cities.
Its current programs include family and early childhood programs, youth programs, daycares, drug and alcohol addiction programs and HIV/AIDS programs and it also provides a range of counselling, mediation and advocacy services.
The society is currently accepting donations of any size for its hamper program and expects to deliver more than 140 hampers to its clients this year.
The hampers are designed to boost the spirits of the recipients and to let them know the staff and friends of Purpose are thinking of them and wishing them a Merry Christmas without judgment.
Administrative assistance Chris Van Walleghem said people can sponsor a family and provide a hamper, or they can contribute individual items to hampers such as toys, clothes, other gifts and food. Planning for the hamper programs starts in October, but opportunities still exist to sponsor families.
Last year, the Purpose Society launched the 150 Club, and it's continuing that program this holiday season. Items such as toothbrushes, deodorant, socks, gloves, hats, scarves, note pads, pens, lip balm, small packages of cookies and candy canes will be packaged into bags and given out to individuals who are faced with housing issues and live with a compromised immune system.
"It went over very well," Van Walleghem said. "Our Christmas hamper program is for our youth and family clients. We do have other programs. One helps people with immune deficiencies and housing issues. The 150 Club, these will go toward them."
The Lower Mainland Purpose Society for Youth and Children is grateful of the donations it receives from the community at Christmas and throughout the year.
Van Walleghem said donations of cash, food, clothing and items such as cribs and strollers are put to good use year-round by people involved in the society's many programs.
Cash donations can be directed to be used for specific programs, such as the school, daycare, health or summer programs.
"We do graciously appreciate whatever assistance we can get," he said. "We have heard through many of our clients what an impact our services provide."
Donations are welcome throughout the year, as they help the society purchase items for a food bank that's offered weekly for the HIV/AIDS outreach program.
Anyone interested in helping out the Purpose Society can call 604-526-2522.
Monarch Place offers some Christmas cheer during the holidays but provides a safe haven to women and children fleeing domestic violence throughout the year.
WINGS - Women In Need Gaining Strength - offers Monarch Place, a 12-bed emergency first-stage shelter for women and children in their homes. It also offers the Chrysalis Place second-stage house, outreach support services and other community programs.
Monarch Place provides gifts to past and present clients who attend its annual Christmas reunion but it gladly accepts donations throughout the year to help with its year-round needs.
As families leave Monarch Place, they are provided with a starter kit to help them live on their own. Items needed include plates, cutlery, pots and pans and bedding.
"They have nothing," said Roshni Vedmanikam of Monarch Place. "All year round, we are trying to put starter kits together."
Throughout the year, Monarch Place and Chrysalis Place require a variety of ongoing items to keep up with the demand for their services. Items include: bus tickets; bedding for single beds (blankets, quilts, sheets, pillow cases and pillows); all sizes of Rubbermaid or Tupperware storage containers; towels and face cloths; dish towels and dish cloths; craft and art supplies; birthday cards and gift bags; CDs and DVDs (music and movies for women and children); boxes of chocolates or candy; pantry goods; coffee; kettles; toasters; frying pans and cooking pots; cutlery (especially teaspoons); cutting knives; office supplies; deodorant; hair dye; makeup; umbrellas; and underwear (all sizes for women and children).
"Every family that comes here, some of them come with nothing," Vedmanikam said. "We have an outreach team that helps the find housing."
To help Monarch Place, call 6045211888.
NEW WESTMINSTER FIREFIGHTERS' CHARITABLE SOCIETY
New Westminster firefighters are often seen around town when they're fighting fires or attending emergency situations, but their work doesn't stop when their workday is done.
All New Westminster firefighters belong to the New Westminster Firefighters' Charitable Society, which raises funds year-round to help causes such as sick kids and the needy. The pediatric unit at Royal Columbian Hospital, New Westminster Family Place, the Royal City Education Foundation and the Union Gospel Mission are among the organization that have benefited from the firefighters' efforts.
"We are not really focusing on one particular group," said Glen Bailey, president of the charitable society. "We are still doing
the pediatric ward at Royal Columbian Hospital, we are still helping out with Christmas hampers."
The charitable society also contributes to projects such as meal programs at inner city elementary schools and the Union Gospel Mission. It recently donated more than $5,000 to the local Union Gospel Mission for its meal program.
"They have to apply every year. Nothing is guaranteed," Bailey said about organizations seeking funding from the society. "Every year they have to reapply."
Other than an annual donation to the B.C. Professional Firefighters Burn Fund, all of the funds are given to groups operating in New Westminster. Local firefighters donate all of their time to the society, which helps keep administrative costs low.
The charitable society is currently collecting stuffed animals and toys that will be distributed to groups assisting local children this Christmas. Donations can be dropped off at local fire halls during business hours.
Bailey said donations of new or gently used toys are appreciated. Toys can be donated year-round, but those dropped off before Dec. 20 will be available for distribution this year.
Cheques can be dropped off at the Glenbrook fire hall from 8: 30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays. Firefighters will then redistribute those toys to various groups in the city that are in need of toys.
"We are not the experts in that field. We don't know who the families are, the kids who need Christmas presents," Bailey said. "We have a relationship with several groups that we donate to."
Cheques can be made out to the New Westminster Firefighters' Charitable Society, 1 East Sixth Ave., New Westminster, V3L 4G6
ST. BARNABAS CHURCH
St. Barnabas Church is seeing an increased demand for some of its community outreach programs.
The church offers a community lunch on Thursdays and an emergency food cupboard on Fridays.
"It's growing," said associate warden Roxee Forrest about people accessing the food cupboard. "There is a need out there. We are finding more people coming with little kids."
Forrest estimates that 60 to 100 people attend the community lunch each Thursday. A similar number access the emergency food cupboard.
"It varies," she said about people accessing the emergency food cupboard. "It is an emergency one. They come once a month. It is not a food bank, it is for emergencies."
St. Barnabas Church appreciates donations of cash for its programs. Items such as toques, hats and underwear are welcomed and can be given out to those in need who attend the emergency food cupboard.
Cash donations would also be much appreciated because the church needs to buy a new industrial stove. It's estimated the stove and exhaust system modifications will cost $15,000 to $20,000, but it's a critical piece of equipment for the community lunch.
The kitchen is also a busy place at this time of year when preparations get underway for the annual Christmas dinner that takes place on Dec. 25. The church is expected to feed about 140 people this year.
Forrest said the church always appreciates donations of turkeys and cash for the Christmas dinner, as cash allows the congregation to purchase items that may be particularly needed.
Year-round, St. Barnabas Church operates a thrift store that generates muchneeded funds for its programs. Donations of household items and clothing are always welcome and can be dropped off Wednesday to Saturday at the 1010 Fifth Ave.
"It is a service to the community," Forrest said about the thrift shop. "People can get good stuff at low cost. That supports our programs."
Cash donations are appreciated throughout the year. To help St. Barnabas Church, call 604-526-6646.
SHILOH-SIXTH AVENUE UNITED CHURCH
Shiloh-Sixth Avenue United Church continues to help more than 3,000 people every month in a variety of ways.
The church hosts many 12-step programs, but it is also home to the Hospitality Project, which provides people with a warm place to wait until they can get into the food bank. The twice-weekly drop-in also provides services such as a family resource centre, a drop-in for children run by New Westminster Family Place, a teacher from the school district who tutors adults who are upgrading to Grade 11/12, a free clothing and household goods exchange, refreshments and a variety of community services.
Jaimie McEvoy, director of the Hospitality Project, said there was a dramatic increase in the number of people coming to the food bank when the recession started, but that number hasn't yet declined. He said the unemployed and underemployed haven't recovered from the recession and many people are at a point where their Employment Insurance benefits are running out.
"There's a lot of people couch surfing," McEvoy said of people struggling financially. "A lot of people move to the Lower Mainland and are shocked at the cost."
Financial donations are appreciated as they allow the Hospitality Project to buy much-needed items like homeless kit supplies, tea, milk and sugar. Gift cards are also useful.
"We can always use work boots. That is one thing that is always in short supply," McEvoy said. "People looking for employment don't have the money to buy the equipment."
Donations of new socks for men and women, heavy gloves with long cuffs, nail clippers and can openers are always in big demand. Throughout the year, the Hospitality Project welcomes donation of these items, as well as volunteers.
The Hospitality Project is attracting at least 700 people each week. It's offered at Shiloh-Sixth Avenue United Church Monday to Thursday.
Anyone wishing to donate or volunteer can call 604-522-3443.
The Guide to Giving will continue in the Wednesday, Dec. 14 edition of The Record. For the full version, see www.royalcityrecord.com.